So how does one begin to tell the story that changes her life?
I guess we start at the beginning. In December 2015, I went to my primary care doctor with what I thought was a urinary tract infection (UTI). After discussing my symptoms and well, to be honest the lack of a recent GYN exam, he thought it would be a good idea to do a quick exam while I was there. So ok why would I think this would be out of the ordinary? Right?
How things can change in the blink of an eye. During his exam he saw something abnormal. A small growth turned my world upside down. He called an OBGYN friend and set me up with an appointment that same day to have a biopsy. The results of that were the word no one ever wants to hear. CANCER!
So how does one deal with this devastating news right at the holiday season??? I was supported by great friends and family, but it was not the best holiday for sure. I was sent to the Derek Davis Cancer Center in Winston Salem NC. My oncologist did another exam and came to the same conclusions as the others and suggested a full radical hysterectomy that was scheduled January 2016.
In just one simple month my world had turned upside down. So here I am thinking that a full radical hysterectomy would take care of this and everything would be fine, but nothing is ever that easy.
After the surgery, the pathology report showed small cell carcinoma cells were in my lymph nodes. My doctor told me that this was a very rare and very aggressive type of cancer. The research I did just reinforced that. The prognosis is not a good one.
This meant that my fight was just beginning. We discussed the best treatments and decided on an aggressive plan. I had 18 sessions of the chemotherapy Cisplatin and Etoposide. This was divided, first 3 rounds of chemo. Followed with 26 external radiation and 4 internal with Cisplatin during the radiation and ending with the last 3 rounds of the dynamic duo. During radiation, my red blood numbers dropped which led to me getting a total of 5 blood transfusions. The last round of the chemo was rough.
My last treatment was July of 2016 and it was an exhausting 6 months. 2020 was 4 years out and my red blood cell and hemoglobin numbers are still below average however not within critical levels. Radiations damage has left me anemic for life and left me with neuropathy in my hand and feet.
Throughout my fight I struggled to find a reason as to, why me. Why did I have to fight this battle? My answer would soon be revealed. I found a support group of ladies online. I learned that this group of ladies were fighting or had fought the same exact battle met each year for fellowship and a celebration of life. Never would I have dreamed how much these women would become my life mission. I have become a member of new family with this group of women that have strengthened my heart and soul and I am proud to call them friends and family. I will forever be changed by this unforeseen development but with every new experience in life we learn and grow which only keeps me moving forward.
In 2017 two survivor sisters and I formed Sisters Against Rare Cervical Cancers, a nonprofit to help the brave women diagnosed with these horrible cancers. Our goal is to raise funds for research and help with everyday struggles of life that these ladies face. We help with gas cards, allowing women to travel to and from treatments. We buy groceries for single moms unable to work because of their ongoing battle. We help fund travel to MD Anderson in Houston; the only research hospital doing research for our cancer currently. We send each sister in treatment a teal support blanket to let them know that they are not alone in their fight. We supply medical supplies needed at home. We run a grant program for ladies to apply for any needed assistance. We try to help these women and their support system in way we can.
I am blessed and thankful to be here. I have been clear of cancer now since September of 2016.
Instagram: @rare_cervical_cancers Twitter: @rarecervical