The Wrong Diagnosis
My story is a bit different than everyone else's because I was not consistent with my annual well-woman visits, a yearly check-up for women’s sexual and reproductive health. At the time, I had never heard of HPV, a sexually transmitted infection, orCervical Cancer. I was also a single mom of three kids with no health insurance.
My symptoms of severe back pain began during my forties. About a year of living with the pain, I was told that it was caused by sciatica. Over the next two years, the pain progressively became worse and spread down to the back of my legs. One day, I discharged a piece of flesh and immediately knew that sciatica was not the issue and I went back to the emergency room.
Living With Cervical Cancer
The doctors performed a CAT scan that revealed a mass on top of my cervix. They immediately recommended that I go to a gynecologist for better evaluation. My gynecologist did acervical biopsy, a procedure where a tissue sample is taken from the cervix for further examination. When the results came back, I was told that I had stage 2B cervical cancer with a 8cm tumor sitting on my cervix. I was advised that I needed chemotherapy, radiation, and internal radiation calledbrachytherapy.
The devastating news that I had cervical cancer was delivered to me 4 days after my 46th birthday. Let me tell you, it was the worst birthday I have ever had in my life. I had to announce to my children and the rest of my family that I have cancer and I’m not sure if I’d survive or what might happen to me. I ended up doing 28 rounds of radiation and 6 rounds of chemotherapy and brachytherapy. In August 2017, 3 months after completing treatment, my doctors did another scan and told me that I was cancer-free. Those were the best words I have ever heard.
Teal and White Tuesday’s
My motivation behind wearing Teal and White on Tuesday’s roots fromCervivor, “an amazing nonprofit organization that brings cervical cancer survivors together and helps to spread awareness, education, support and more.” I first discovered them online while I was going through treatments. Through Cervivor, I was able to share my story and met many powerful women who had stories similar to mine. During 2019, I was invited to Survivor School in Chicago where I heard more stories and learned more about my illness. After graduating, I became an ambassador for Cervivor, and my goal since then has been to raise awareness around HPV and Cervical Cancer through Teal and White Tuesday. I also reached out to the governor of Colorado asking him to make January Cervical Cancer Awareness month, and it is finally official as of 2021!
Surviving Cervical Cancer
I survived Cervical Cancer because of my strong willpower and support from my friends and family. I did every single treatment and fought hard everyday. Having Cervical Cancer made me understand my “why” in life. I want to share my story so other women can understand the toll this horrible disease can take on one’s life. More importantly, I want to educate others about HPV and Cervical Cancer’s early symptoms and ways it can be prevented. I highly recommend that everyone under the age of 26 get theirGardasil 9, an HPV vaccine approved by the U.S. Drug and Food Administration. This vaccine can prevent most cases of cervical cancer if it’s given before exposure to the HPV virus. It also can prevent vaginal and vulvar cancer. I hope my story helps others and changes their lives for the better.
If you are looking for more resources and support for Cervical Cancer, check out our other blogs:
- What is Cervical Cancer? Prevention, Symptoms, and Treatment
- 7 Helpful Tips For Coping With Cervical Cancer
- Protecting Your Mental Health After A Cancer Diagnosis
Have you gotten your well-woman check up? Let us know in the comments! We love hearing from our community members! If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us for more information.