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Thriving After Fighting Cervical Cancer

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I started my cervical cancer journey April 12, 2001. I went in for a routine Pap—after not having had one for a few years for some pretty typical reasons: lack of insurance and body image issues.
I got the shock of my life: a diagnosis of cervical cancer. This was devastating, to say the least. Cervical cancer came in and changed everything. Here I was, 25 years old, working in Washington, D.C., as a successful television producer and having the time of my life. In an instant, without warning, that all changed. Instead of thinking about my next interview, I was thinking about the end of my life, with my hopes, wishes and dreams not yet fulfilled. At this early stage in my life, I could only think, “This is it?”

I fell into a deep depression and retreated from most of my friends. How could they understand this when I didn’t even understand what was happening? My doctors told me that my best chance at living was to have a radical hysterectomy. That meant giving up my womb and any chance of getting pregnant and giving birth. This simply was not an option for me. I wasn’t married and didn’t have any children. But I always thought this might change. There had to be another way. My doctor told me about a procedure called a radical trachelectomy. But there was a catch. If I was a candidate for this procedure, I would have to get pregnant immediately or freeze my eggs.

I didn’t know what to do. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I got second opinion on top of second opinion. I met with ministers and consulted and prayed about it with family and close friends. During this time, the hospital continually called to find out my decision. Time was running out. Harvesting my eggs was very expensive—and my health insurance wouldn’t pay for it because I was unmarried. It was impossible to raise the funds. Finally, everyone agreed just going ahead with the hysterectomy would be best for me.

Feeling defeated, I agreed to the radical hysterectomy. The hospital wanted to schedule my surgery immediately, but I found an excuse for every date they suggested. They finally scheduled my surgery for June 14. So, on June 14, 2001, at 7 a.m.

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HERWriter Guide

Hi Tamika - I'd like to thank you...on many levels. First, for sharing your story and offering hope and encouragement to others. Second, for taking action and forming Tamika and Friends so that others can get vital information and support. Third, for your honesty. Cancer isn't pretty, and there are many obstacles to overcome. People often don't want to hear about that and discourage survivors from talking about the dark stuff but doing that isn't helpful to the newly diagnosed patient who's navigating a lot of new territory.
Knowledge is power, and those who contribute to building knowledge are powerful. Thanks for your work, and I'm looking forward to hearing a lot more from you.
Take care, Pat

February 23, 2010 - 6:31pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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