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I remember being told numerous times by my doctor that he had never seen a cancer this aggressive and invasive in someone my age. I was way under the average woman's age for cervical cancer.
When I had first moved to Colorado with my sister and young son, I didn't have health insurance at the time. So me and my sister both went to the planned parenthood to get our birth control. Yes I am aware this is a touchy subject for some and everyone has their own views, but this is my personal story. So we had both been going at the same time for convenience and support for years. I had never had an abnormal PAP so I had never even had a worry about cancer before, until that day.
I was standing in the bathroom doing my hair and getting ready next to my sister when I first told her "I felt like my PAP was going to come back abnormal". She looked at me and laughed asking why? I couldn't explain it at the time, and still can't. I just felt that something was off. So we went, got our PAP done, birth control for the next three months and then went home.
Well, I got a call a few days later from the nurse. She told me that the nurse practitioner would like me to come down to talk with her. So I went. I was told my PAP results had come back abnormal, but not just a little.
The results came back showing I had High-Level Cancer cells, Stage 2 cancer already. So she referred me to a Specialist in the area since he was a gyno-oncologist. I was in shock! A small part of myself was relieved that the feeling of something being wrong was actually true and not just me being paranoid.
The day I went to my first appointment with the specialist he did a biopsy to see the level again and if it had changed. So I went home and waited again, a few days later he called me and said I needed to come in and he was going to do a LEEP procedure. My appointment was about a week later.
It's an in-office surgery there, but I still needed to be sedated during it. They strapped a huge thing to my leg connected to wires to keep my body grounded to prevent electrocution! As he did the surgery I could hear the electricity ringing in my head and could feel it running through my body. It was really weird.
Afterwards, he told me I wouldn't have much pain, ha ha ha he was sooo wrong! It hurt bad! I had a follow-up appointment 2 weeks later to check my healing and to biopsy again to see if the cancer was gone.
When I got the call after my check up telling me my cancer had already come back and had spread over my entire cervix already, I cried. So I was immediately set with a new LEEP surgery for the following week. After that surgery, my doctor tried to reassure me that with as young as I was that he was sure he got it all that time and I was going to be fine! So again a 2-week follow up with biopsy. Again I got that call, it was back again already!
So another LEEP surgery for the following week. During that surgery, I remember him telling me that he was going to take a little more than he normally would due to how aggressive my cancer kept coming back and so fast. Yet again he reassured me that because I was so young and he had never seen cancer like this in someone my age that he was sure this would get rid of it and I was going to be fine.
When I got the call again after my follow up appointment, it was different. My normally happy, upbeat, positive doctor sounded serious. He told me it was back again but this time it was spreading into my uterus. So he wanted to see me before we scheduled the next surgery. I cried so hard after hanging up the phone.
I will NEVER forget that appointment. They had me sit in the exam room in the very far back corner of the office. When he came in he started explaining to me that "he had never seen a cancer this aggressive in someone as young as me."
He then explained to me that with him knowing I already had a young son at home, he was going to always put my life first before myself ever having more children. He explained that this next surgery was going to be more aggressive, and I could possibly have a full hysterectomy with radiation and chemo if it didn't work.
He also asked me if I had a living will in place, and if not I should go down and get one in place. He gave me a bunch of information on support groups and people to call and talk with.
I went home, got so drunk and freaked out! I cried so much. At the time I was living with my current boyfriend who had no idea how to support me, and all my family lived outta state. I was alone and so scared. I informed my family of my wishes if anything did happen to me, and made sure it was all written up. Now doing all this at 20 was something I wouldn't want anyone to have to do.
The day of that surgery I went in so scared. He took my whole cervix and a huge chunk of the bottom of my uterus. I blacked out during the surgery and remember hearing them say to open my IV fluids to full blast because I was going out. I came back to and the nurse then wouldn't leave my side.
Afterwards, I laid on the table for a very long time. Maybe part of my own fears was making me not get up, and maybe I didn't want to leave the comfort of the nurse. I felt safe on the worst day I had been through so far.
Well, that surgery worked! I finally got a good call after my follow up appointment. Yes! No chemo, radiation, or hysterectomy was going to be scheduled.
Now I was so relieved and happy, but was also informed I wasn't out of the woods yet. I had to be closely followed and checked for years afterward. It was all so scary and happened so fast!
I survived my cancer, but I know so many women don't have the happy ending my story does. Ever since then I live with no regrets, appreciate the little things more, love harder, forgive easier and try to be happy every day. As I know that this life is never promised and we only get it once.
PLEASE make sure if you are a woman, go get checked with a PAP regularly. Remember my story and how fast it happened to me. If I can prevent one woman from going through what I did, then it would mean everything for me.