Tuesday, July 09, 2013

So... this one time I had cervical cancer

For years I have had abnormal pap smear results. Mostly mildly abnormal and for years I have not worried about those results. For years my doctor’s assistant called me like clockwork every six months insisting that I come in for my biannual test. I would dodge her calls for weeks, sometimes months. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to have a pap smear or a colposcopy but they are really awkward and a little arduous.
 
I successfully evaded my doctor for eight months before she personally called me to tell me to get into her office; she sounded serious. I scheduled my appointment but couldn’t get in for another month.I finally came in three months later than I should --- I know better even if I don’t know better.
 
My doctor told me this horrifying story about how a patient of hers, very much like me, had an abnormal pap and decided to wait to make an appointment. She waited for three years. When she did come in it was discovered that she had cervical cancer and it was inoperable; she was the mother of a three year old. She was diagnosed as terminal. I sat in the patient room really listening to my doctor understanding, for the first time, the true gravity of my procrastination and stupidity.
 
Less than a week later, I received the all too standard “your pap came back abnormal we need you to come in for a colposcopy” call. I had taken my doctor very seriously during our last appointment and very promptly scheduled my appointment.
 
I mentioned I have had a colposcopy before; more than one. In the past there has not been a reason to do a tissue sample / biopsy because my results were so very mild. I’ve been very lucky in that regard. My luck changed this appointment. My doctor took six biopsy samples and let me tell you they are painful. She proceeded to tell me that my results are no longer mild and that she was a little worried about what she saw. She’d have the results rushed and call me as soon as she found out anything.
 
Three days later, it’s 7:00 a.m. on Saturday and a random number calls my mobile. I don’t answer numbers I don’t know and particularly on Saturday’s at 7:00 a.m. Hell, most Saturday's I'm still sleeping at 7:00 a.m. There was, of course, a voicemail from my doctor telling me to call her and leaving her home and mobile number for me. I knew at that moment whatever she had to tell me wasn’t going to be great news. Do doctor's call with good news on Saturday's? With my heart in my stomach I dialed her mobile number. She picked up after two rings.
 
“Wendi, I’m so glad you called me back. I did get the results from your biopsy and your cancer cells are at a level that we need to operate. It needs to be done in the next month, may be two at max. If we don’t hurry it will spread. If we do hurry we can probably stop it completely.”
 
The conversation lasted for fifteen minutes, me stunned on the other end of the phone trying to struggle to put together coherent questions. I wasn’t stunned by the results, I think I knew somehow right after the colposcopy. I was stunned that I got so lucky. That it hasn’t spread. That it isn’t terminal. That if this surgery goes well I won’t have to have radiation or chemo. That my doctor and her assistant cared so much about me and my health that they called me, harassed me even, every six months.
 
So, I’ll be a little absent here the next few weeks, probably until after my surgery because I have to make myself happy, just in case. I have to see my friends and family as much as possible, just in case. I need to dance, laugh, drink, and be genuinely silly as much as possible, just in case.
 
By far the worst part of this has been telling people (so thank you for letting me vent this out to you all). I don’t know how to do without just blurting it out without a cushion or consideration for their feelings (I mean look at the title of this post). I had the audacity to blurt it out to someone in the middle of the street a few nights ago without any context or foreshadowing at freaking 3 a.m. Nothing, just straight diarrhea of the mouth from me. So I think I am writing this because I feel like it will make that cushion for people. As soon as the “C” word comes out… no not that one!... people instantly freeze up. I know I do the same thing when it comes to my own friends. You wait, holding your breath, wanting the terribleness of the news to be over. Don't worry, the news is over now.
 
On my way to Mile High Soul Club to celebrate my friends and my life... Just in case


 
 

34 comments:

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  2. Sending you endless positivity! Best of luck, I am very sorry to hear this. I only know what it's like to be on the receiving end of cancer, my dad, aunt and uncle all had various forms over the past few years, and a very close friend of mine has terminal HIV, so in a weird way I know how you feel having to tell people something so serious and so scary. You're not alone, and with all that spunk I bet those cancer cells will be stopped dead in their tracks. Fingers crossed for you!!!!!!!

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  3. I'm so sorry to hear that you have cancer. I am glad that they caught it in time and hopefully everything will go well for you. I will be sending positive thoughts/vibes/juju your way. I hope and pray that everything goes well and will be wishing you the best.

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  4. This is my first time commenting! Thank you so much for speaking so openly about this. I take my lady health very seriously, and it's so important for women to be aware of how vital their annual exams are. I'm so glad you went in when you did, and that things are looking as positive as they can given the situation.

    Lots of happy thoughts coming your way!

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  5. You're beautiful and wonderful. I hope your friends will be there for you. My thoughts are with you during this time. Be strong and this too shall pass! thank you for sharing your story!

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  6. Wendi I love you lady. I have had this same experience. Fortunately after my last visit it has finally subsided enough to lower the flag, after years of anxiety-ridden appointments, awful snips...
    You are brave. You are awesome and you still have a lot to do around here and I'm sending super positive thoughts your way. I just know in my heart that you are going to come out of this golden. (Maybe this is why I keep pushing to get together. Something was telling me. We have more in common than you may think. AND we haven't had nearly enough fun together yet!)

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  7. I'm so sorry to hear your news. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
    Thank you for being strong enough to share this news with complete strangers.

    Lisa.

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  8. Wendi
    Praying that everything will be fine....Godspeed...sending positive vibes your way...!!!

    Fred (ITC)

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  9. Holy crap, Wendi. I'm so sorry has happened to you. Thinking of you and wishing / hoping for the best for you. (I've had results like yours for a couple of years now too so I totally get the putting it off feeling). I like your enjoying life plan :) Sending big hugs and love your way. xxx

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  10. I'm so sorry to hear the news. I wish you all the best of luck and hope everything will go well. I really admire your positive attitude!

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  11. Dear Wendi, thank you so much for sharing this incredibly personal, harrowing account with us. I'm truly sorry that you're contending with such a challenging, stressful medical situation. Please know that I am always, always here if you need to talk or simply vent (I haven't had cancer before, but I've been battling many different of chronic health problems for 11 years and have lots of experience with gynecological related issues and surgeries).

    You will be in my heart and thoughts constantly,
    ♥ Jessica

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  12. Oh Wendi, I am so, so sorry to hear this terrible news! Thank goodness that you went to get it checked out and that they have caught it in time. Please get in touch with me if you ever need to talk or vent! I will keep my fingers crossed that the operation goes smoothly and that you make a speedy recovery....and until the operation, HAVE FUN!!! It sounds like you are in the best hands (what a kind doctor you have!) and you are also in my thoughts, girl! Lots of love xxxx

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  13. Scary stuff. It sounds like you have a good plan in place - hope everything goes well for you during and after surgery. Take good care of yourself.

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  14. Hi Wendi, it makes me so sad that the big 'C' is still doing its damage but your positivity is simply inspiring. Both my Mum and Aunt have been in the exact same situation and both managed to have the nasty cells removed and are now completely fine. I wish you all the best and wish that we all had such caring doctors! Have fun with your friends and keep being fabulous!
    xxxxx

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  15. Wendi, I am so sorry to hear this. I hope that all goes well and you recover quickly. Sending many positive thoughts and prayers your way.

    Denise

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  16. Wendi,
    So sorry to hear your news but thank you so much for sharing. It's so important for women to be aware of how vital their annual exams are. You're lucky to have such good doctors. I hope everything goes well for you and I wish you a speedy recovery!
    -Emily

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  17. Thank you for sharing your story. I think many of us would have reacted the same way. Exams are never fun. I do hope you have a speedy recovery, and that this corrects the problem with no future complications. I too, had surgery a year ago, but for a different reason. I personally don't want kids. So, it was an easy decision. I hope that your struggle is an easy one.

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  18. Wendi,
    I'm so sorry that you are having to deal with this. I had to some years back so if you need to chat let me know. You're in my thoughts. Take care you!
    Tammy

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  19. Wow, first off, thank you for sharing this news with us all. I know it had to be difficult on some level. Second off, know that you'll be in my prayers. Already there is such hope to know it isn't terminal, it isn't spreading. Thank God they found it and thank God they hounded you. Yes, live life to the fullest, whether or not you are told something like this by your doctor.

    Take care, Wendi! You'll be in our thoughts often!

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  20. Early detection is so important. I'm glad you shared, so maybe others won't put things off!

    My tale is similar. I'd not seen my ob/gyn for years, finally went, and she ordered a routine mammogram. Long story short, they found DCIS, an early stage, non-invasive(yet), cancer. I had surgery to remove it, and a few weeks of radiation. Had it not been found then, it would have developed into a far more serious situation.

    My prayers are with you as you deal with this!

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  21. I'm so sorry to hear this, Wendi. Very brave of you to share this with us all. Stay brave and strong as you make it through this. You know all of us in blog land will be keeping you in our thoughts. Take care! xoxo

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  22. Dear sweet Wendi, I know we haven't met yet but I am sure if you lived closer or vice versa we would be great friends. The biggest quality I have seen from you, is your free spirit. Please keep your thoughts in a positive mode and lots of heartfelt thoughts your way. I am so glad to hear that you have a great doctor who is helping you through this process.

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  23. Shit! Seriously, thank you for sharing with us. It's truly a reflection of your bravery & strong spirit, and a beneficial reminder for us all to remember to take care of ourselves & get screened whether we want to or not. I'm so sorry you have to go through this, but it will be over soon! And they caught it early! Deep breath, you'll be in all our thoughts!

    xo Sara

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  24. I hope the surgery is successful and you get well soon!

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  25. Thank you for being so brave in sharing this with everyone on your blog. It is so important for women to know that cervical cancer is no joke and is non discriminatory so getting annual checkups is a must.

    You are so right when it comes to getting those damn exams. I hate getting them too, it is so nerve wrecking, even if you have gone to the same doctor over and over. It just sometimes feels so degrading!

    None the less thank the stars above that they caught this in time! My thoughts and prayers go out to you as you face this head on and I pray you have a speedy recovery. We all would love to hear how things go once you are back on your feet!

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  26. Sending you positive thoughts and prayers that your surgery goes well :)

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  27. All of our positive thoughts and prayers are with you!!! I'm sorry that you have to deal with something like this but I admire your positive attitude and your willingness to share and inform others! Take care!!!

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  28. Thank you for sharing. A friend of mine recently got the news that her pap smear was abnormal. For me that was such an eye opener, It reminded me of how fragile life is. I wish you all the best, take care of yourself and get well!

    Lots of love!

    Simona

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  29. I wish you all the best for a speedy recovery.

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  30. I am sorry to hear this news. I am sending good wishes and good thoughts your way. Get well soon!

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  31. Wendi-

    I'm so sorry. I've never had the big C but I know others that have and you are in my thoughts and prayers. Be strong lady, I know you'll be okay.

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  32. Good heaven's, Wendy. I am so sorry I didn't see this earlier. You are a trouper!

    I have had several friends get one or another type of cancer in the last few years and they have practically sailed through it. (Practically- at least in relation to our fears about it.) After treatment they have been so danged healthy and cancer-free that they've been able to even stop worrying about its return.

    One friend is SO MUCH PRETTIER and looks 15 years younger. Something great happened to her in the process of getting rid of it.

    "They've" made such advances now that this has become- in our modern day- just another thing we deal with medically and it doesn't have to terrify us... while, granted, no question about it, it sucks to go through.

    Having seen so many fully recover and hardly miss a beat, I feel genuinely confident this will be true for you.

    I have also personally known people to discover they were not with the right person when this has happened. And, counter-intuitively, the same number have "met someone" while going though it to find that the person had real depth on top of their other desirable and attractive qualities. Yup, seriously.

    Please keep us posted. Much love. This is Katherine in Bali- my password manager is screwed up so I can't log in.

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  33. I think everyone gets the sense that they're invincible until one thing or another tells them otherwise. I'm so glad that you decided to heed your doctor's words and came in when she asked. I don't even want to think of the possibilities had you not. I'm hoping that things go in a positive direction for you and that you'll be able to kick cancer's butt. Keep your head up!

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  34. i'm late to read this ...and i wish you all the best and i hope you're fine.
    my beloved aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer this time past year. luckily it was diagnosed by the doctors more than early. she went through a rough time, that had totally changed her. after radiation and surgery, after a while of rest she is back to work for some months now. she is healthy, happy and enjoys the new point of view of living her life: live here, live now, live love, live life.

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