Twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine
“You are going to feel a bit of pressure”
Thirty, thirty-one, thirty-two
“Try and relax and do not forget to take deep, slow breaths”
Thirty-three, thirty-four, thirty-five
“Just bear with me a little while longer. Everything will be ok.”
Thirty-six, thirty-seven, thirty-eight, thirty-nine, forty…
“Ok, don’t sit up or move. We are almost done”
When I pictured my college graduation week, I did not picture this. I was a healthy, active, energetic college student with the whole world ahead of me; not a girl getting cervical cancer removed at a questionable doctor’s office. I was on my back with a sheet draped over my knees, completely open and feeling vulnerable. The room was freezing cold and only added to my uncontrollable shaking from the numbing medicine. Every breath I took was shallow, vibratory, and stopped at the back of my throat as if I was being choked. The tears that did escape my eyes slowly dripped down the side of my face and reminded me that this was not just a bad dream. I was terrified. The nurse behind me was silent and watched everything to make sure I did not move. The doctor worked in silence except for the occasional comment to let me in on his progress. It may sound simple but all I wanted in that moment was for someone, anyone to hold my hand.
I was able to completely disassociate myself from the room and focus on counting the ceiling tiles above me one by one. Some had pictures of clouds on them, some had butterflies and birds. Some were dirty, some were cracked, and others looked brand new as if they replaced one of the latter. Seeing this made me feel connected to the others like me who had to study these tiles like I did. They were like modern hieroglyphics. I could tell them all my secrets, count them one by one, and start over until my story was finished.
Before my surgery that day, I kissed my boyfriend at the time goodbye and he wished me luck. Neither of us realized that I was not going to ever come back. When the shell that was left of me came back out of the room and walked in the parking lot, I had my break down in his truck. I was screaming like a parent desperately looking for a missing child. I knew I would never find that girl but I was desperate. I was kicking his glove box and speaking absolute nonsense like a crazy person. I did not know how to feel, think, or even breathe. I was completely lost, angry, afraid, and have never felt so violated in my life. I knew I would never be the same after what I went through.
In the United States alone, over 12,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and more than 4,000 of them will die. This cancer is sadly the second most diagnosed cancer worldwide but yet, one of the most preventable because it develops slowly over time. Early detection will literally save your life. It saved mine. Since the development of the “Pap Test”, used to detect any cervical abnormalities, the death rate in the United States has continuously gone down an average of 2% per year. Cervical cancer can affect any women at any age depending in her background.
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. The purpose of this month is to enlighten our community and fellow women on the impact of this disease. Sign up for your annual pelvic exam and pap smear THIS MONTH. Make it a point to take care of yourself. Remind your friends and family to do the same. No one likes to go to the doctor but it is a necessary and very important part of staying healthy for our families, friends, and ourselves. Do not fear the smear! (Ok, I could not resist….)
When I pictured my life after cervical cancer, I did not picture it like this. The boyfriend that stood by my side every step of the way is now the most loving and supportive husband. We just celebrated our four year wedding anniversary and I could not have dreamed up a better man to spend my life with. My college diploma was sent to me in the mail and we threw a party in our living room, just the two of us, with our closest friends, some family, and our dogs. I didn’t even have a coffee table to put a cake on but that day is one of the most special memories to me because it was so simple and so full of love. I eventually made a resolution to reclaim control over my body and got in to weightlifting. I quickly fell in love with the industry and was able to find my destiny behind a desk working at a very well-known supplement company.
I love my job. I love my life. I love the people that stood by my side when I was an absolute wreck of a human being. What I went through as a girl made me into the woman I am now. Even though it was a rough road, I will always be thankful for that journey. Without that journey, I would not be where I am today. If this article can encourage one person to get checked, my journey was well worth it.
Cervical Cancer Information
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