Hello, I want to share my story as encouragement for those of you who are scared if you are waiting for a diagnosis or have gotten one.
I am a 39 yr mother of two. After having normal pap smears for literally 20 yrs, I received an abnormal pap with the CIN designation at age 37. And oh by the way, I found out I had an HPV infection (didn\^t even know I had it and I had been married 8 years!). My gyno sent me to gyno oncologist. He was incredulous when he discovered I had 6 cm tumor in the upper portion of my cervix! He staged me a 2B2 prescribing 5 weekly chemo sessions, 30 days of external radiation, and 3 sessions of outpatient internal radiation. When I went for my initial consult with the radiation oncologist, she ordered a PET. I will forever be grateful to Dr. Traci McKelveen--the PET scan showed that the cancer had metastisized to my pelvic lymph nodes. I immediately had surgery to remove the cancerous lymph nodes. Then I did my other treatments. The treatments were relatively mild so I worked through my treatment. The biggest side of effect was fatigue.
The great news is 6 months after the surgery, chemo, and radiation--I WAS CURED!!!! And I am still free 2 yrs and know I will be forever. Because of the advanced stage of the cancer, they did not do a hysterectomy. However my ovaries were fried from radiation so I am now on hormone replacement patches bc I went into early menopause. YUCK.
The biggest after effect for me has been ongoing lymphedema primarily in my pelvic region which is painful and a nuisance. My lymph nodes were compromised by the surgery so they don\^t drain my lymph fluid well. This is nothing when put in perspective--that I am living and healthy!!!!!!!!!! I am grateful to my gyno onc--Dr. Benedict Benigno--he saved my life!
I hope this story offers hope because it is such a good news story! You might ask, how my cancer grew so fast given cervical cancer is a slow growing cancer--STRESS--I had major life stresses in the year before I was diagnosed--job change (that didn\^t work out), marital issues, near death of my mom, etc...It compromised my immune system which allowed the HPV infection to wreak havoc...I also had a IUD which I have read will mask the symptoms of cervical cancer--pain and bleeding (which I had and ignored bc I thought it was the IUD).
Quick advocacy note: annual pap smears, demand HPV tests whenever you go to the gyno, and get the gardisil vaccine if you are eligible. I will definitely do so for my daughter!