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  • I am a cancer survivor
  • I am now 54 years old. I think I am healthy--most of the time. But this, of course, was not always so.

    I got married a little later than most; I was 25. The year that I was 27 I began having problems with my periods. I had an IUD which was removed sometime in the summer. By January, I knew something was very wrong. My PAP smear came back as Class III and the country doc insisted that I have colposcopies done. I asked him if that was what made my periods go away and he assured me it was not. Odd, he didn\^t seem to care about that part.

    The colposcopies turned out to be positive. The country doc called me up and told me to check into the local hospital and he would do a hysterectomy right away. I told him he was a quack and I was going home to my mother!!

    My then husband and I drove 26 hours in a beat up pinto in a blinding snowstorm to get back to my mother. (She had already made an appointment with my old GYN.) The GYN had convinced this country quack to release the slides of the colposcopies to her and they had arrived via Federal Express in time for my appointment. She said there were several suspicious sites--10 that showed cancer in situ-- and she wanted to do conizations. Of course, I was fine with that idea--so much better than a hysterectomy.

    More better than I realized. In the preadmission testing the pregnancy exam came out positive. Ummm, hmmmm. We talked a long time about the risk of the conization compared to the risk of not. We decided to go forward with the surgery. It was very scary. The anastetheologist assured me that general anastesthia would be fine since I would probably lose the baby anyway. ACHHH!!!!! I had a regional block instead.

    Well, I had a strange and trying nine months. As far as we knew the cancer was removed but the doc did not want to jostle the cervix any more than had been already and I had to wait until the baby was born to get another PAP smear. I could not have anything like chemo or radiation because of the pregnancy. Hence, we simply had to hope the surgery was well done.

    It turned out that the surgery indeed was well done, but the pregnancy not so well. My son was born in 1982 with multiple birth anomolies. He had a hole in his heart. His kidneys, lungs, eyes and ears were all affected in some degree. It was not until much later that we realized the neurological, and pychosocial deficits that he had. But for many years my PAP smears remained fine.

    In 1999, the cancerous cells showed up on the PAP again. At the time I was also suffering severe mestral migraines. By that time I was 46, and no longer interested in reproducing. It was then that I had a complete hysterectomy. Everything came out, cervix, uterus, tubes, ovaries....the works. I\^ve been a fat and ugly tub ever since. But I always thought I was healthy.

    Now I am 54 years old. My only child, my son, called this morning from his home 300 miles from here to tell me he loves me. He was on his way out to work. He is a painter. I do well, I am a registered nurse. I have a new husband. The first passed away many years ago. But I often think I am sick. Back then no one had ever heard of HPV. Now . . . . I wonder . . . .

  • 10-12 -2008
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