My connection to cervical cancer began in the spring of 2019. I was 24 years old and finishing my 1st 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 3 months for testing and biopsies as needed. I did this for a full year. 3 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 OBGYN for pap smears every 6 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 3rd 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