Chapter Leader: Megan Ward
“My connection to cervical cancer began in the spring of 2019. I was 24 years old and finishing my first year of medical school and had gone in to my OBGYN for my annual exam. A week later, I got a call that there were abnormal cells on my pathology that showed ASCUS (Atypical Squamous cells of Undetermined Significance, to be exact). I then went in for a colposcopy where they biopsy different areas of your cervix to get a more detailed look. These results came back as endocervical adenocarcinoma, a rarer form, not your “typical” type of cervical cancer.
“Being in the medical field, I knew what all of this meant. I would have to have a surgery scheduled to remove a part of my cervix. Throughout all of this, I was still in school, still taking 3-4 exams a week, studying 16-18 hours a day, and preparing for my upcoming boards exams. I went ahead and scheduled the surgery and did it during one of my ‘off weeks’ of school. In the midst of all of this, I told very few people about what was going on. My immediate family knew, my boyfriend knew and some of my closest friends.
“I went through with the surgery and negative margins were achieved (a good thing!). However, due to the pathology results and the extent of my diagnosis at such a young age, I was referred to a gynecologic oncologist who I saw every three months for testing and biopsies as needed. I did this for a full year. Three months ago, I was just released from her care and have had negative results at every visit. I will now be going back to my regular OB/GYN for Pap smears every six months.
Although I am very fortunate in the fact that I have not been forced to go through chemotherapy or radiation, I know that this will continue to be something I have to watch and monitor since recurrences do happen, and more often with the type I have. In the future, when I am done having children, I know that I will have to get a radical hysterectomy done. If I was done having children now, I would have already proceeded with this surgery. However, for now I will continue to be monitored frequently until that time comes.
“I am now finishing up my third year of medical school. Due to how busy I was at the time of all of this, I didn’t realize how it impacted me until this year when I was in the hospital. I have now decided that my specialty of choice is going to be obstetrics and gynecology, a field in which I never saw myself going into until I was taking care of these patients. Although I haven’t chosen to go into this field solely due to my diagnosis, I think it contributed to my decision. Being able to take care of those patients and say, ‘I’ve gone through this, I get it and It’s going to be okay,’ is truly a unique experience.
“Looking back on this, I know that this is where God has meant for me to be all along. I will finish medical school next year and begin residency and I can’t wait for many more moments to be able to continue to impact my patients with my story as a physician. I am now at a place where I feel comfortable sharing my story and want to advocate for education and research dedicated to cervical cancer. I am excited to be an ambassador and excited to begin a chapter with this organization!”
—Megan Ward, NCCC Nashville Chapter Leader