I did go every year for my pap. The doctor noticed a "scaley patch" on my cervix. Wanted to keep an eye on it until my next pap. At that pap the doctor mentioned the "scaley patch" again and decided to wait until my next yearly exam to see if had changed. I went home and told my husband what the doctor had said. This was the end of August 1993. At the time of the last pap he had just begun working in an oncology dept. of a large hospital. He mentioned it to the oncologist he was working with. Within 3 days I was in the hospital diagnosed with Stage 3B cervical cancer that had spread to the lower nodes. I had a radical hysterectomy, lower nodes removed, and began chemo (cysplatin and 5FU). While having chemo the doctors also began a strong course of radiation. I was given a 15% chance to live. My regular doctor screwed up big time. If it had not been for my husband being in the right place at the right time by the grace of God I would be dead today! Within a short length of time (months) I was totally urinary incontinent. Had lots of infections. Around 2000 I had a urinary diversion (Indiana pouch)which was made by using my right ascending colon. Immediately following this surgery I became fecally incontinent. I dealt with this while trying to work full-time. I started having a lot of pain in my abdomen and side. Also due to radiation damage the doctors had to create an irreversible colostomy. Too much colon was damaged. A couple of years later my left kidney was blocked so they inserted a pcn tube in my back to drain the kidney which they found was only working at 13% efficiency. They tried to put a stint in without any success because the ureter was damaged by radiation and scar tissue from the the urinary diversion. Eventually the ureters from both kidneys were damaged so badly that PCN tubes had to be put permanently in both kidneys. The PCN tubes have to be changed out every 6 weeks by the vascular team at the hospital. Each tube change cost approx. $7,000. This does not include supplies, medicines,and finally having to give up a job I truly loved.
Even with all this I still consider myself very fortunate. I have lived 17 years past diagnosis. All has not been very pleasant but at least I got to see my 2 children marry and the birth of 3 grandsons.
The moral of the story: get pap smears every year as I did, GET A SECOND OPINION IF ANYTHING APPEARS ABNORMAL "SCALEY PATCH" etc., ask lots of questions about what life saving treatments may cause down the line, and help educate others so they don^t have to go down this horrible path or even worse die from a disease that could have prevented or at least stopped in its tracks!