January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. So, my question to all of you is this: When is the last time you went to your OB for one of those amazingly annoying appointments that we all avoid and hate? Trust me, I hate spreading my legs on stirrups and having a cold instrument stuck in my who-ha too, but it's totally important. We always think, that won't happen to me... Anyways, I hope you go regularly or will start NOW. One of my dearest, closest friends is going through a highly troublesome time and is willing to share her story in order to help other women who may be experiencing something similar. This post is extremely emotional for me to write as I witness her attempting to attack this fray on a daily basis. Not only has my darling friend been whipped in the face with the whole cancer scare, she is now dealing with infertility. DOUBLE WHAMMY. Her story is a lot more detailed than just that, and I'm honored that she is letting me share this with all of you.
"I just want to start off by saying, always listen to your body. It will always tell you when something isn’t quite right. Nobody knows it like you do, which is why it is so important to be intuitive and advocate for yourself.
Making a doctor’ s appointment after noticing something was different with my body is why I have a story to tell. There aren’t always definitive signs and symptoms, but for me it was some irregular cycle activity which rose a red flag. After not seeing my doctor for my “lady appointment” for almost 2 years, I went in for a normal exam to find out that the results that came back were not so normal. I received a phone call from my doctor at 1:30 in the afternoon on a Tuesday - in the middle of the work day - to find out that the results showed I had adenocarcinoma in situ. At the time, I didn’t know what the entire phrase meant, but as soon as I heard “carcinoma” I knew it was serious. Lucky for me, it meant it was the very early stages of cervical cancer, but I’ll never forget my doctor saying that it was “the real deal.”
My doctor gave me options. Typically when this happens, a hysterectomy is recommended to ensure that all of the bad “stuff” is removed. But because my then, fiancé and I weren’t married yet, and have both always wanted nothing more than to be parents, I opted for a smaller procedure where only a portion of my cervix would be removed with high hopes of removing all of the bad cells. To someone who has always wanted children, the possibility of not being able to carry them was devastating. The fact that I had to make a decision, and those were the only two options sent me down a crazy spiral of worst case scenarios. Not only did I have to make this decision, I had to make it fast. I was told “you don’t have time to wait.”
After a small complication from the surgery, a long and very painful couple of weeks followed while we waited to find out if the cancer was invasive or not. I got the call - the cancer was not invasive and my doctor had successfully removed all of the cancerous cells from my body, and all margins were clear. Amen. I thank God every single day for my loving and supportive husband, Andy. We weren’t even married yet, and we were facing VERY real life challenges together, and he did not for a single second make me doubt his commitment to me and to our soon to be marriage.
Flash forward to 14 months later, and we have been trying to get pregnant for 9 of those 14 months. Because of the procedure, there are a list of things that could deter me from getting pregnant naturally. The biggest being that, because an important portion of my cervix was removed, things are not getting where they need to go on their own. On top of that, through ultrasound, we found that the shape and position of my uterus may prevent me from being able to carry a baby at all. At my last follow up appointment, (all of which have still shown clear margins, a.k.a. NO cancer cells YES!) My doctor gave it to me straight by saying that IVF is most likely in my future. He suggested for us to try for 6 months on our own and if it didn’t happen, to make an appointment to figure out the next steps and start navigating the world of fertility specialists. Well, the appointment is made and I’m dreading it. This is not how this was supposed to happen. However, I am lucky enough to have amazing support from my husband, friends and family and friends who ARE family, to lean on during this potentially bumpy ride.
There have been so many ups and downs in a short period of time. There have been tears and fear, but, most of all there has been hope. Hope that Andy and I are able to finally have the family that we have been dreaming of, whether done on our own or with assistance. Hope that my body stays healthy. Hope that by sharing this I can convince even one person to make an appointment with their doctor.
Listen to your body, and it will repay you. Here’s to health, hope and awareness.
It's extremely important that we get our lady parts checked. PLEASE DO NOT PROCRASTINATE. It could change your life. Please help by sharing this story and going to National Cervical Cancer Coalition to learn more about signs and symptoms.