The Cervical Cancer Diaries: Infants Freak Me Out Anyway

I think I audibly heard my oncologist breathe a sigh of relief when I outwardly told him my health was more important than fertility. Based on his reaction, I don't think that happens often.

Mar 1, 2012 at 2:00pm | Leave a comment

 
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I've learned a lot of stuff in the past week.  
 
First off, I received a huge response from a LOT of people who have commented on my first post here, emailed me, or friends who have shared on Facebook about having HPV and abnormal pap smears, or having to have some level or surgery/monitoring due to cancerous or precancerous cells. 

Shit, ladies, we need to talk about this a lot more and not be ashamed of something we don’t need to be ashamed about.  It is pretty crazy how many people are dealing with the effects of HPV on different levels. 
 
In meeting with the gynecological oncologist (what a mouth full!) last Friday, I do know that I will be having surgery on March 5th. His office was EXACTLY like what you see in movies when the character goes to talk about about having some sort of terrible illness. Why do all the offices look the same?! 

Anyway, the surgery I'll be having is called cold knife cone surgery and it's an outpatient surgery, so at least I'll get to go home that night.  I'll be knocked out and the doctor will cut out a cone shaped chunk of my cervix to test it and hopefully also chop out the parts that aren't my friend. The potential concern is the cells that are the problem aren't on the happy looking surface of my cervix, but more within the glandular cells higher up within the cervix. That is why it didn't show up on my pap smear and why my doctors didn't think anything was wrong.

 
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There are cells that the lab tested from my colposcopy that came back as glandular dysplasia consistent with "at least" adenocarcinoma in situ (the starting point of cancer), but they don't test further when they get that result back. Why? Who knows! 

I will know more when they have the chunk of my cervix from surgery tested, but for now I have these cancerous cells present, which may or may not be elsewhere within my business. Adenocarcinoma in situ usually occurs on the surface of the cervix versus being in the glandular cells, and the types that start where mine did happen like 5-9% of the time. Yay, my cervix is so special! 

The concern of the oncologist is that when these nasty little things start in the glandular cells, they have a very high likelihood of either being or becoming invasive, much more so than the type found on the surface of the cervix that is visible.  
 
I wish more had been explained by my primary care doctor's office initially, but it's also my own fault for making the doctor tell me on the phone. They obviously weres hocked by the findings as well since it's not what they expected, so it felt very alarmist, which made me freak out. At least I know more about my cells now and here's to hoping they haven't spread around too much or created anything icky.  
 
Side note: definitely need to switch primary care doctors after things are more stable.

There's often not as much known about this medical stuff as most people would like to think. If a doctor leads you to believe they know everything about what is going on, fire them immediately. My doctor expressed very openly that they wouldn't know what is going on 100 percent unless he had my uterus on a table to look at and test, and I appreciate that level of honesty. They don't know, and it's their best guess. Could their best guess be right? Yeah, it could be, but my primary care doctors were taking their best guess on what was going on previously and were wrong.
 
The main goal is for me to come out of this 100 percent healthy. I may need to be monitored every four months with colposcopies if things are somehow less icky than they seem or have a hysterectomy if things are bad. I'll know the answer to that after the surgery. 

This surgery may be a stepping stone for a hysterectomy if they aren't confident that they cut out all of the cells that are the problem. What's the point of trying to have kids if you don't know if you'll be around for that long? Living without knowing what fully is going on or thinking there could be something else looming scares me more than getting my uterus ripped out. 
 
The problem with these issues is that they are affecting a young pre-child bearing population, and fertility is often the number one concern instead of it being the health of the woman. I think I audibly heard my oncologist breathe a sigh of relief when I outwardly told him my health was more important than fertility. Based on his reaction, I don't think that happens often.

If we desperately want a kid later on, we can adopt. If this article is bumming you out and want a good cry, go to the M.A.R.E. We've talked about adopting seriously in the past if/when we want kids, because there are lots of kids out there who need families, and why not adopt?  Besides, brand new infants scare the shit out of me.

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What sucks more than anything is waiting. Until you've waited on something like this, you probably don't know what waiting is like. I felt a twinge of this when we were waiting to buy our house. I really wanted it because it was awesome under a layer of grime and also very cheap. I love a bargain, even if it means waiting six months for a short sale to go through. The deal saved us at least $100k based on what we got, though I think I paid in grey highlights. That was really difficult, but not quite to this level ofextreme. 

Luckily, I've been able to sleep more without drugs, because I was having some very odd potential side effects involving numb fingers and tingly legs with sleeping medication.
 
This is going to sound like some hippie bullshit, but I truly believe the universe won't give you more than you can handle. I'm very much at peace right now with what we're dealing with, and feel like I'll come out just fine. If I had cancerous cells in my ass, I'd feel differently, I'm sure. 

I'm blessed to have a very supportive husband, family, and friends. I also feel lucky to have a mother in law as supportive as mine, and that she is as close by as she is. How many people would comment positively on having their mother in law's house being within walking distance? Anyway, I'm super lucky. I am also thankful to work for people who are awesome and supportive regularly, let alone when I am dealing with something like this.

I am not impoverished and waiting to have surgery based on lack of insurance or finances. We're not rich by any means, more like very average. Life goes on and I'm continuing on as usual and trying not to drive myself crazy with the waiting. I am getting my tattoos added on to by a cool artist who is down the street from my house, doing my normal level of exercise, juicing galore and trying to be as healthy as I can. Also, have you seen how cute my dogs are?  Snuggles make whatever else is going on a little more bearable. 

All in all, I'm lucky to have this happen in my current situation.  I feel healthy and strong, mentally and physically, and I know I can handle this.