I'm going to be a rock star!
That was my dream in January, 2000, when I quit my day job to pursue my one true passion of music full-time. My band was doing great and I could not have been happier.
One week later, I saw blood. Immediately, I called my gynecologist, who chalked it up to stress, told me not to worry, and said he would see me at my annual exam in March. Of course, he's the doctor, so I trusted him and happily continued to write songs and book my band. I felt so lucky to be able to pursue my dreams.
This bliss was not made to last.
Although all of my previous Pap tests had been normal, the results from my Pap in March showed some abnormal cell growth on my cervix. My doctor ordered a colposcopy, a more advanced exam that allowed him to take a biopsy and test my cells for problems. At that point, I barely knew where my cervix was, much less about cell mutations that could turn into cancer many years down the road if not treated!
My doctor assured me that because of my history of normal Paps, he was sure I did not have cancer. It was, he said, probably just "dysplasia", pre – cancerous cells that can be easily treated. We were to meet the following week to discuss the results of the colposcopy and biopsy, and I was scheduled to have a simple follow-up procedure to remove the bad cells.
He was wrong. On April 18, 2000, I was diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer with extensive lymphatic invasion. Everything happened so quickly after that. I had a radical hysterectomy ten days later. One month later, I had a laparoscopic procedure to move my ovaries out of the "frying zone." Then, I had five weeks of daily pelvic radiation, concurrent with four rounds of chemotherapy, followed by three rounds of internal radiation (brachytherapy). They gave me everything they had to save me and within four months I was finished with treatment.
Except I wasn't prepared for the deep, dark depression to follow.
Everyone knows that the treatment is hard and it takes an awful toll on the body. But for me, the depression was undoubtedly the worst. I felt like I lost everything.