What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
I made my doctor tell me I had cancer on the phone last week.
She wanted me to come in and see her, I told her to tell me if I had cancer, which would be the only reason she would want me to come. She told me that I indeed have cervical cancer, and she told me that in a fancy way with big words with the identifiable term "carcinoma" mixed in there.
I need more tests to be done, so I have an appointment with one of the top doctors in the state on Friday. Thank sweet baby Jesus I am in Boston and not in the middle of nowhere Oregon still. Based on my scary Google searches, I'll most likely have to have some sort of surgery depending on the extent of the cancer, and hopefully not anything more than that.
But at this point, all I know is that I have cancer in my lady business.
Apparently I'm the poster woman of why pap smears and further early detection tests are done, and why everyone reading this who owns a vagina needs to go schedule their next pap smear. Even if you haven't ever had a weird pap smear and don't think it could happen to you. It can.
I've been married since 2008 and can count my sexual relationships on my hand. Scary strains of HPV are out there, and you can get it even if you have sex with someone in a wet suit. Cancer caused by HPV doesn't care if your a whore or not, and just wants your lady parts to kill you.
I was diagnosed with HPV two and a half years ago, and told it would be monitored and it'd most likely clear out of my system, because that's what it normally does. I was told I didn't need to have a pap for three years if everything was fine. I tried to schedule my appointments yearly, and my doctor's office told me I didn't need to. I pushed the issue in December, and they scheduled me "early" for my check-up in January.
My physical was fine with my primary care, Dr. DeMasi, who also looks up our roommate Colleen's vagina. We laugh about it when we know the other is going in for an appointment. My pap smear came back "normal," but with HPV still present. My doctor ordered a colposcopy, which I scheduled for two weeks later.
Colposcopies are delightful, let me tell you. If you have a positive HPV test come back more than once, I suggest you schedule one, even if your doctor doesn't mention it. Dr. Meisinger, one of the other doctors in the office who got to look up my vagina, was slightly more warm and fuzzy than my primary care, and joked around while she was checking out my cervix She put a microscope up my vag after squirting it with vinegar, which apparently turns cancer cells white, while most normal cells stay pink and normal. She joked around to soothe my nerves while she rooted around in my lady business.
"What a proud cervix you have -- there it is! Don't laugh too hard, I had a lady laugh that thing out once!"
She did a number of biopsies throughout my cervix on areas that looked suspect, and did another biopsy toward the back of my cervix where she couldn't see. The biopsies feel like someone ripping out some of your cervix, because that is what is happening. It hurt, but was soon over. I was left with a giant sanitary pad.
I went home feeling unconcerned, because my doctors had made everything seem like it was business as normal and all should be fine, and I was relieved to be done with the experience.
Fast forward to Friday to the day of the call. I have cancer and I am stuck knowing very little. I sit at work, pretending things are normal and that I don't have cancer. I get home and my husband asks me why I didn't bring in the recycling bin and I burst in to tears and tell him because I have cancer. We cry, tell our family, and now we wait. This is the worst part.
I told my mom while crying that I will take off my jewelry and walk in front of a bus if I can't control my bodily functions at any point.
"Don't do that, you'll ruin the bus driver's day."
"Well, if you try and make death look like an accident so you don't void out your life insurance policy, somebody is gonna have a crappy day, Ma."
She tells me to jump in front of a train if I need to, until I remind her that trains have conductors, too. Clearly coping by making morbid jokes is how our family deals with shit.
The irony of this whole cancer thing happening right now is that I've been on a mission with myself for the last year in getting healthy. I've always been overweight, and I've been trying my damndest to change my diet and lose weight.
I do hot yoga regularly, walk around Boston whenever the weather is good, and do some terrible Jillian Michael's torture workouts in my bedroom when I don't work out otherwise. Jillian's a fitness dominatrix, and she wants you to hurt. It's been working, and I am down 60 pounds from when I started dieting at the end of August, in a joint effort with my now formerly morbidly obese husband, Jesse. (He's now a slightly chubby and very sexy action-figure-collecting man.)
I feel stronger than I ever have, and can run at least a mile without stopping, which I don't think I could ever say in my life before now.
I haven't ever necessarily felt the complete urge to have babies, though I love them. It's a big scary commitment, and having a nonreturnable baby would probably frighten me more than a cancer diagnosis. But I won't like being told that I don't have the option of having children, even if we end up not wanting them.
We've been undecided for years, and often talk of adopting a child out of the system "when we're older." Being an adult has started to feel more real now that we have a house and extra rooms where we could put a child, along with extra rooms for action figures and dachshund figurines. And yes, there's a room filled with nothing but action figures in my house. In the city. Ridiculous, right?
I'll be sharing my cervical cancer adventures in hopes that others will read it and it'll help someone else in some way, be it by getting a pap or knowing there are others out there dealing with cervical cancer. Not jumping in front of buses right now.