My name is Michelle Sybert. I am a 31 year old mother of two living in Southern California. I own and write for a blog called Her Cup Over floweth. I write about being a cancer survivor and parenting two preschoolers! Recently, I was asked by Meghan, via my blog, to share my cancer story.
Her it is:
In January of 2006 I was diagnosed with Stage I Endometrial Stromal Sarcoma, which is a fancy word for uterine cancer. ESS is a very rare form of uterine cancer however, occurring in roughly 3% of all diagnosed cases. I had a low grade version of this extremely rare cancer and at 28, almost 29 years old, I was blown away by my diagnosis. It was stage one, yes...It certainly was not the end of the world. I was thankful to be alive. I did not have to have chemo or radiation and in what seemed like a whirlwind of events, I was diagnosed, treated and given the blessing of "no evidence of disease". I am a very fortunate fighter.
What I haven't told you in this story is that at 29 years old, I had a total abdominal hysterectomy. This meant the doctor removed everything-ovaries, tubes, uterus. It also meant that I would be enjoying premature menopause. Bleck! For some, menopause is like a speck of dust on your television screen-barely noticeable. For others, it's side effects can be down right ugly. Because my particular cancer is estrogen driven, I am not allowed to be on any form of hormone replacement therapy (artificial or natural). This makes for some very interesting adjustments to my emotional state and diet! (Did you know soy products contain estrogen enhancing properties?)
You cannot prepare for such a thing as this-Cancer. For me, however, there was little down time. Little time to "reflect". With a 2 year old and 1 year old there was very little time to stop and contemplate what it all meant. i was too busy chasing after two toddlers! At times, I felt like I never even had cancer-except that every time I put on my PJ's, I see the 6 inch scar on my tummy. I struggled for many months with depression and I never fully relied on the God I said I believed in. Ibattled the those hormone fluxes inwardly alone. Since then, I have begun to trust God completely with my life and my cancer. I am incredibly thankful to him for these last three years because you see, had my husband and I waited to have children-they might not exist. I was pregnant with my daughter 3 months after getting married and pregnant with my son 7 months after my daughter was born. I was diagnosed with cancer when my son was 9 months old........I am deeply deeply thankful for my two little blessings.
Cancer survivors and those in the midst of battle often say they are thankful for each day they are alive. It's not just some pithy saying...they say it because it's true.
I support Get the Bean and your endeavors to raise awareness about Cancer. thanks for fighting the good fight!
Recently I received an e-mail from a wonderful woman, Gabriela. She invited me to join her blogging community, Beauties on the Go. So, I popped on over and looked around. This is a great community, truly! There are so many wonderful woman with great shops, advice and inspiration. I did join and am so glad I did. If you are a woman, sorry boys I'll find something just for you next time, you must check this out! If you join please request me as a friend and let them know I sent you. No I don't "get" anything for referring...lol....just the satisfaction of knowing You will be getting a lot out of this community!
It is with great pleasure that I invite you to an innovative, fun, and inspiring experience online. Beauties on the Go is a community of women for women designed to provide a variety of inspirational, fun and stylish resources, tips, products for purchase, thought provoking articles, information, and events all focused toward helping you find your balance while unleashing your beauty.
At Beauties on the Go we also place a high value on wellness education, lifestyle services, goal achievement support, environmental awareness, beauty, social, artistic and cultural interests, philanthropy, and community involvement. When purchasing any Beauties on the Go products, part of the proceeds will go directly toward contributing to our Teen Beauties on the Go L.U.V.V.E program, as well as our Beauties Going Green Program.
Hello, my name is Gabriela R. Chavez. I am pleased to have you here to experience something very special to me. This site was born because I have always held such love for and a vision to showcase the many diverse talents of the many amazing women who scatter the globe. Being blessed to meet such beautiful women I have experienced and learned first hand that women are more than just physical beauty; the essence, that glow, the radiant spark: all comes from their beauty within.
Here is a place to demonstrate what you have, while having a support system and encouraging another to do the same. One of my many goals with this online community is to really help lovely women, such as yourself, as well as teens from all walks of life bring out all of the inner gifts they may have lost sight of...or maybe didn't think they possessed.
Growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico I was very fortunate to be raised around a diverse crowd of unique individuals ranging from all ages and backgrounds. That enabled me to build a strong foundation of beliefs, namely; to be open-minded and loving.... understand others with minimal judgment…always keep in mind that I don't have to agree with someone in order to understand them, open my arms and support them.... and simply just love them while breathing belief into them.
It's time to re-introduce women and teens to healthier and more positive lifestyles... I find inspiration in the younger and older people of our generation; the innocence, determination and strength of the beautiful people around me continue to push me forward. As the site grows you can look forward to some incredibly, fun and informative resources that include inspirational events and products, personal goal support, social and educational events and workshops, as well as my very special L.U.V.V.E Program for our Teen Beauties on the Go.
Sister, Mother, Wife, Aunt, Daughter, and dear Friend I gladly extend my embracing love and gratitude to you for accepting the invitation to be apart of my dream and having the courage to pursue yours. Please know that the strength of those with good intentions that are actively trying to make a difference in the world will make a difference in the world.
Okay here it is! I'm so happy with how my new blog is looking and its so organized! Please take a look around and let me know what you think! Ill give you a little tour to start you all off:
My Story: On the top you will see "My Story". That is where you can click and read about my cancer journey. It's only a short little glimpse into what I went through but it gives you a pretty good idea. I will probably be adding links to all my detailed stories about my adventures in cancer land but for now its just one post.
Fellow Fighters: On top next to "My Story". Fellow Fighters is where all my guest post will be. You can read about all the other cancer stories out there and if you are interested in sharing your story email me please!
Resources: Third tab over on the top you see "Resources". This is great and one of the reasons I got a face lift on my blog. Here you can find all sorts of goodies. There are Free Gifts for cancer fighters, blogging communities for those touched by cancer, cancer inspired blogs & websites and much more!
Links: Fourth tab over on the top you see "Links". Again, one of the reasons I changed my blog. I had so many important & useful links but there were just too many. Click on links tab to find all sorts of informative links. Articles, financial assistance, information for cancer fighters, survivors, supporters and caregivers!
FAQ is not up and running yet but will be soon!
News: Cancer in the news, how great is that! Things are always changing and we need to be informed, remember knowledge is power folks!
Contact: well thats pretty obvious. Click on contact and you can email me directly about anything! Don't be shy I love hearing from you all!
Thank you Ellie from Rainy Day Templates for such an amazing blog! Ellie took the time to get to know me and what blog fit my personality and needs! And to top it off she did this on Thanksgiving, quickly and so inexpensive! If you ever decide you want a blog face lift I highly recommend her!
I'll be working on getting everything ironed out so bare with me everyone!
I was a young, healthy vibrant 28 year old attending law school in the winter of 2006. During my second year of classes I began feeling ill. I went to numerous doctors looking for help. Each doctor suggested it was all in my head; maybe I was depressed, mentally ill or over-stressed. Because I was young and had always been healthy the doctors assumed nothing could be seriously wrong. Enduring extreme pain, bleeding and exhaustion I kept returning to my doctors looking for help. Still no one did anything to address any of my health issues. My symptoms became worse with each passing day. Because no one believed I was ill I continued to attend classes and tried to live a normal life. Eventually the pain became so unbearable I drove myself to the ER.
The doctors at the Emergency Room also suggested my pain was in my head. However, due to the symptoms I complained of they were required to give me a CT scan. The CT scan showed my pain was NOT in my head. I had a large tumor on my cervix. The tumor had grown so large it had crushed my ureters causing my kidneys to rip open. In February 2007 I was finally diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer, stage 3b. The same doctors that had assured me I was fine were now telling me and my family that I would not survive.
I decided not to give up but rather to fight. After two weeks of hospitalization and blood transfusions I was flown to Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston Massachusetts. Upon arrival the doctors were both amazed and horrified. Amazed at my spirit and horrified at the pain I was forced to endure. Teams of doctors attended me in an effort to diminish my pain and save my life. I underwent chemo, internal and external radiation as well as numerous surgeries. With only a 20% chance of surviving I and my doctors fought hard against cancer. In July 2007 I won my battle and was cancer free.
Although I won my fight I continue to struggle against the secondary effects of my treatments. Cancer has changed my life forever. I returned to law school and am set to graduate in December 2008.
Without the love, care and attention I received at Dana Farber Cancer Institute I would not have survived. Because of this I am dedicated to raising awareness and supporting Cancer Institutes.
I created this blog in an effort to help other fighters find a safe haven to share their stories, find helpful information and lean on each other for support. I also wanted a place for supporters to peak into what a cancer fighters world is like. To understand what their friend/family member is struggling through and help their loved one in the best possible way. I also wanted a place for caregivers to find support, information and courage too. Finally, I want to educate those people fortunate to not be a fighter, supporter or caregiver understand the world of those who are touched by cancer.
Please look around and if you can't find what you are looking for on this blog get in touch with me directly by clicking on Contact. It gives me great joy to know my cancer battle can help others!
- THE BEGINNING (about my initial symptoms & misdiagnosis)
- FINALLY I GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM (about my diagnosis)
- GETTING TO MASSACHUSETTS (about going to Dana Farber Cancer Institute)
- HOPE, THE SCARIEST WORD IN THE DICTIONARY (about realizing how sick I was)
- BACK TO SCHOOL (about my return to law school after treatments)
- THE SUBJECT OF HAVING CHILDREN (about dealing w/my inability to have kids)
- MY VERY FIRST TATTOO (about radiation treatments)
- PEE BAGS, A NEW LOOK (about having nephrostomy tubes)
- BATTLE WOUNDS (about the emotional scars cancer leaves)
So, I have decided to hold off on posting until its up and running. Its going to be a drain getting all the posts and links in the right place as it is. I have seen what my blog will look like and its great, im super excited. If you want to see the wonderfully creative woman who is currently working on my blog face lift check her out here at Rainy Day Templates
This is great! I met Kim a couple weeks ago when she sent me an email. Kim's mother also fought cervical cancer when Kim was a young girl. And Kim lost her uncle to Lung cancer in 2004. I can't imagine how difficult it must be for someone to see cancer all around them, just awful. Kim has been kind enough to offer my bloggy friends a great deal! She has written the following post so read it and please leave her a comment saying hi! Oh and if you don't have anyone to get one of these for theres always me...lol....they do look GREAT!
The Fight Against Cancer
Everyone in America today has someone in their family and/or knows someone who has been affected by cancer. Meaghan has made her fight against cancer known to us all and she is determined to get the best of cancer and not let cancer get the best of her. Through reading her blog, I've learned more about cancer outside of National Breast Cancer Month than ever before. Breast cancer is in the forefront because it is one of the leading causes of cancer for women but as Meaghan has taught us all, cancer comes in many forms.
With cancer affecting so many lives and families, it should not just be in the forefront only one month out of the year. Cancer is a daily disease not a monthly disease. In honor of Meaghan and all others who are determined to live their lives and fight cancer everyday, I would like to offer you, her supporters, free shipping on pink gifts and gift baskets from Fruit Nut & Candle Gift Baskets.com. Send a gift to a cancer survivor to show your continued support and encouragement for their hard fought battle(s).
Just log on at fruitnutandcandlegiftbaskets.com/breastcancer and enter the code "meaghan" at checkout to receive your free shipping. This coupon is good until December 31st 2009.
Thank you Meaghan for displaying the power of the human spirit to us all.
I have gotten so many private emails from women who have been afraid to talk about their HPV and/or Cervical Cancer. This is a shame and its societies fault. That's right folks you and I are to blame. And I'm not just talking about HPV and Cervical Cancer. Its all those things that we fear. For some reason our society labels people and things that we don't understand as "Bad" "Dirty" "Not Like Us". I believe we do this because if we push the unknown away from us it can't happen to us, right?!? WRONG!
My dear friend's mother died of Ovarian Cancer. When people would come visit her mother they would sit by her bed side trying to figure out how/why Trish had gotten cancer. Was it the Coal Mines where she grew up? Yes that must be what it was because they hadn't grown up there and would be safe from receiving the same diagnosis. Trish didn't want them to "figure out" why she was dying from cancer. I don't want you to figure out why I had Cervical Cancer. My other friends father who died of Lung cancer didn't need that either. Stop being so afraid of what could happen to you folks. I don't know, you don't know only God knows. Live your life with love in your heart, curiosity in my mind and spirit in your soul. But beware of fear and self importance, that is not a way to live!
If we all just started talking about those things we were afraid of I promise you the fear would subside. The more I talk about my cancer the less it owns me! Give others permission to talk to by supporting them and not meeting them with fear, judgment or any other self serving comments. No one should be afraid to talk about their cancer battle in fear that others will dislike them, push them away or tell them they did something to deserve it.
Lets all stop this cycle and help other men and woman share their stories with the world!!
If you like my blog please vote for it :)
I apologize in advance if I don't write a lot or my mood isn't as positive as usual. Ill be back to my good old self soon enough though! Hope everyone is having a great weekend!
Oh and if you like my blog and haven't voted yet please do :) I doubt I will get near the current leader but its fun either way!!
HA! You did not win. You challenged me to a war and I persevered. So many battles have been fought between you and I. Some battles I have lost, too many. Some battles I won too though. Blood, tears, sweat all poured onto our battle fields creating a mixture that smelled of death. But I did not die. NO. I grew so much stronger, something you never expected from me.
I want to thank you dear Cancer. Thank you for showing me all the things I am capable of. Thank you for introducing me to death so that I can truly understand life. Thank you for the knowledge of true pain, now I can handle anything. You thought all these things were your weapons against me but they turned on you. Death and Pain made me grow stronger and become fearless!
Now I challenge you dear friend. I will fight you for as long as I live. All those who you have challenge are banning together to form the strongest army you could ever imagine. We have taken your weapons of death, fear, pain and sorrow and have molded them into our own. They make us strong with every day that passes.
We are coming Cancer, oh yes we are! We are strong, so much stronger than you could ever be. We are alias introduced to each other by our common enemy, YOU! Cancer your days are numbered because, we are always training to fight you. It will be soon and you will fall and your fall will raise us so high!
Help me with my battle against cancer by voting for my blog. My blog is the only cancer blog in the running but I need so many more votes to win. If my blog wins it will bring much needed attention to Cancer, Cervical Cancer to be specific! Thanks so much
Before you read this post, if you havent yet voted for my blog please do! It would be so great to have a cancer blog win and I need a lot more votes to be a contender!
Last night I didn't get to bed until 4 am. I was in a lot of pain! Surgery is just around the corner so I am not too surprised. As many of you know I have stents in my ureters. I went misdiagnosed for about two months. In that time my tumor grew so large it crushed my ureters causing my kidney to rip open and fluid filled my gut. When I got to Dana Farber they put in nephrostomy tubes to relieve my kidney and allow it to heal. At the same time they placed stents in my ureters to prevent scar tissue from permanetly closing my urters.
The stints are terribly painful. In fact I wrote a post about the day they were put in. The stents must be replaced every three months. This is because they collect calcification (kidney stones). At one point I had about 22 kidney stones. The pain always increases around surgery time. So last night I couldn't sleep because the pain was too much. I am happy to say,however, that I am feeling much better this morning. A bit tired but better :)
I've shared my funeral song with you. Now I want to share a song that really represents how I feel about my journey and how I find the strength to keep fighting, telling my story and facing the many obstacles that face me.
We all have that inner voice and the strength that goes with it. If I could travel back in time and say anything to Meaghan facing cancer, laying in the hospital bed this is what I would tell her!
I was talking to my mom last night and she told me about something one of her co-workers said to her that really upset her. After she told me what the co-worker said it upset me as well. But, unfortunately did not surprise me. The woman had asked what type of cancer I had. My mom responded 3b Cervical. The womans response: "Oh well we know why she got that"
Wow, what a response. Cervical Cancer is the second leading cancer killer of women! Cervical Cancer's treatments are horrible, most often worse than breast cancer treatments (although those are extremely horrible as well). When you are treated for cervical cancer Chemotherapy is the easiest part of the treatment. External radiation fries your ovaries, cervix, uterus, colon, bladder, intestines etc...if you get out of those treatments without having a colposcapy bag you are very lucky. Cervical Cancer treatments also include internal radiation. For some this is worse than others. some of these treatments require temporarily paralyzing the person from the waste down, leaving radioactive rods inside them. Others must be put under general anesthesia for many hours while having radio active seeds inside them. Then there are the surgeries, hysterectomies etc...
The side effects of all of these are horrible. Never able to have children, menopause, blisters on your privates, inability to digest food without extreme pain, horribly painful urination, infections, the list goes on and on. My point is that Cervical Cancer is not what people say it is. It is not a punishment for those who are "sluts". I WAS NOT A SLUT. I did not make bad decisions. And, even if I did this is not something I deserved.
If we are lucky enough to survive us Cervical Cancer Fighters are now left to be ashamed. When people ask, what kind of cancer did you have we cringe knowing that when we answer we will not be greeted with sympathy and support but with judgment and disdain! I find myself defending the cancer I had on a daily basis. People are completely uneducated about cervical cancer and we survivors pay the price.
I want to reach out to other survivors and tell them they are not alone. I want them to be able to come to my blog and see that their secret inner fears, anxieties etc...are not strange or wrong. That there are so many others like them and my blog is a place for those people to connect. I also want to reach out to supporters and caregivers and provide them a place to learn more about what their loved one is going through.
As a 3b Cervical Cancer survivor diagnosed in my 20's I felt utterly alone. No one talks about cervical cancer. And, very few people talk about young cancer survivors. It scares those who it hasn't happened to. Once I started my blog I met countless people who have battled HPV and cervical cancer. I have received so many emails from woman saying they had been afraid of talking about their battle because of the negative stigma that is attached. Cervical Cancer is the #2 Cancer Killer of women behind Breast. We as woman need to stand behind each other. We need to remove the negative stigma that comes with cervical cancer. I am a highly educated (law school grad in two weeks) middle class woman. This happened to me and I am not ashamed. The World Health Organization states that every many and woman will contract HPV at one point in their lives. You do not need to even have sex to contract HPV. HPV is now also being found in peoples mouths.
Woman are a powerful group. Please help me take away the shame that is connected with Cervical Cancer. It is difficult enough to battle cancer to then have to be ashamed, not acceptable!
Oh and if you haven't yet voted for my blog please do! If I could win it would help bring awareness to Cervical Cancer :)
Its easy to feel sorry for those who have to fight cancer but what can you do to help? How can you help others feel less violated by Cancer? This is a question I ask myself daily. This is why I have my blog, share my journey, provide resources. Cancer makes me feel helpless but that feeling motivates me to find a way to help, a way to take back those things that were stolen.
Today I read a post that inspired me. My good bloggy friend over at Hi Ho Ohio is doing something that I only wish I could do. I have copied her post and re-posted on my blog. After you read this I hope you take the time to visit her blog and say hello! And...if you are interested in doing what she has so generously volunteered to do I have the links on my blog!
So here is the story.....
But, it is triple special. My father, John, was diagnosed with lung cancer just a couple months ago. His birthday is ALSO 11-22 and in his honor, I also will donate for him.
But, this is me today, Monday 11-17-08! And for a few more day, I have to wash and dry all this hair. My emotions are slightly mixed about the whole process.
So, if you have a long ponytail....consider it....your will grow back and you might even want to do it again, that is my plan.
Every person who votes for me will get entered for a surprise giveaway(will probably be coffee and/or tea). When the voting is done I will draw a winner. Lets give the top runner a run for their money. Right now I have 50 votes but I need 800 more to tie the top blog.
Please vote for my blog and help me raise Cancer Awareness!
I know I have a huge community of blogger friends and supports and I need your help! I am running for a Sit Award on Divine Caroline. I would love to get recognition from this site because it would help me get my blog out to other women. That was my #1 goal when I started this blog, to reach others who feel alone like I did. My #2 goal was to document my journey through cancer and to help my self through therapeutic writing. With everyone's help I have done so much more than i could ever have imagined possible.
I've been absolutely amazed by how many people I have met who are like me. How many cancer supporters, caregivers, fighters and survivors. The numbers of emails I have gotten from other women who thought they too were alone. I even met 2 women who had cervical cancer and went to the same hospital and saw the same doctors as me, what a wonderful thing this internet is!
If I could get some recognition from a new forum my blog could reach even more men and woman who are currently battling alone! If you could just take one second and vote for me I would appreciate it sooo much! Help me Bring Awareness and Bring Cancer to the Forefront!!
Voting takes place this week and even if I am not ultimately chosen it is such an honor to even be considered! I do hope that I get the opportunity to speak at my graduation because I have so much to say. I never imagined I would be able to return to law school after my cancer diagnosis. Not only did I return, I did so after missing only 1 semester, my GPA increased and I am GRADUATING!
I cannot wait to be on that stage, have my family watch me accept my diploma and then celebrate. Not long ago I was told I only had a 20% chance of surviving my diagnosis. Now, I am alive, cancer free and getting ready to graduate.
There is no way I could have come this far without the love, help, encouragement and inspiration of my fellow law students and faculty. They made my graduation possible, and for that I will never forget them. Many law schools have a reputation of being competitive, mean spirited, cut throat. Not mine. My school was full of loving, creative, helpful, supportive, caring, giving men and woman. I could never put into words how grateful I am for all they have done for me.
It was October of 2005, I was 27 years old. I wasn't aware that the little bit of spotting I was having was actually a warning sign of something much larger. At first I was not concerned. The month before I had taken a trip out of town. I didn't realize there was a mix up with my pills until after I was gone. Instead of my normal dose of birth control I received a pack of "low dose" pills. Since I used the pills to regulate my cycle I didn't think it would make much difference. I attributed the spotting to the change in dose.
When the spotting continued the next month, I figured it was just taking a while for my body to adjust to being back on the normal dose. It wasn't often and just a little pink. No big deal. Another month came. The spotting was getting heavier and more frequent, but still not enough that it caused alarm. It was the holidays and I had been under some stress. I figured it was now the stress causing this "issue". In the mean time I was also starting to have bladder problems.
By February I was spotting rather frequently. It was now blood and not just the little bit of pink from the months before. My bladder was so weak I was running to the bathroom at least 3 times an hour, sometimes 4. I had started wearing pads at all times. It was much easier than changing clothes from the unexpected bleeding and the "mild" loss of bladder control. I couldn't go anywhere, or do anything, without knowing a bathroom was right there. Needless to say this greatly impacted the new dating life I was creating. I finally decided to call my doctor and make an appointment. Not for the bleeding, but because my bladder was out of control!
I never made it to that appointment. Instead, I went home for lunch one day. I was no longer spotting, I was bleeding, and heavily. It was equal to my heaviest day.However, I wasn't due for my cycle for another 2 weeks. I did what any female would do...I called my best friend. She told me to call my gyne immediately. I did, my normal gyne wasn't available, so the office got me in with another doc in the practice. In my mind I was thinking it was a broken blood clot. I was a smoker of 14 years, I had been on birth control for 6 years. Yes, I was convinced it was a blood clot.
During the exam the gyne said "A-HA!" and explained there was a polyp on my cervix. The bleeding was due to this thing breaking. No big deal. He removed 80% of it to send off for biopsy. But his ending words are what hit me..."Is it cancer? Naaaw, I don't think so. You're young! Not saying it's 'impossible', but I don't think so." I sat there in the gown thinking Cancer? Why would he say such a word?? But blew it off...because he said I was too young, and he didn't think so. He's the professional here...right?
It was almost a month later by the time all the tests were done being run. I got the call around 10 am Tuesday April 4th, 2006. My gyne's office. They had the results, the doctor wanted me to come in (she hadn't seen me yet), could I be there at noon. I knew. If it was still at the pre-cancer level they would have told me over the phone like the fill-in gyne did when he said it was definately pre-cancer. But they wanted me in the office. I knew.
I started to prepare myself on the way there. I could manage chemotherapy. I could manage radiation. I can do this! I will beat this! When the doctor told me treatment would be surgery...well I wasn't prepared for that. When she said a hysterectomy...I REALLY wasn't prepared. It was stage 1B1 (possibly 1B2) adenocarcinoma of the cervix. 28 years old, single, no children, and I would be scheduling a hysterectomy within the month. The office made an appointment for me to meet with a Gynecological Oncologist on Thursday the 6th. Gyne/Oncos are the experts in "female" cancers, if cancer is ever even just suspected, be sure to get a referral to have a gyne/onco handle things!
I met with Dr. Eileen Segretti that Thursday. We went over all the test results. She did an exam and remeasured the tumor. Cervical cancer is most often staged based upon the size the doctor can see (if its bif enough to be seen). Under 4 cm is stage 1B1, over 4 cm is 1B2, evidently I was bordering the 4cm line. Dr. S said she felt it was under the 4cm range and kept the stage at 1B1. We scheduled surgery, a radical hysterectomy with pelvic lymph node removal and tacking up of my ovaries, for May 15th. I put it off a few weeks in order to move into my new place, and arrange my healing time to fall in line with my best friend's visit. I just had to handle those important things first!
After surgery Dr. S said everything looked good, but we would have to wait on the pathology reports. 2 weeks later I received another kick in the head. The tumor was larger and much deeper than expected. Instead of growing around the cervix like normal tumors do, mine decided to grow straight through the middle. I was fortunate I didn't put surgery off any longer than I had. With this new information I was told radiation treatments with a chemo booster would be required. I was to start those as soon as possible. A port (basically an IV with a flexible needle) would be inserted into my chest. I would keep this in to ease the pressure on my veins during the chemo infusions.
2 weeks later I was put under to have the port installed, and had my first chemotherapy infusion when I woke up. There would be 6 in all. I should have known from that first day how much the treatments would suck. I didn't expect there to be many women my age...but someone a little closer would have been nice. I spent 4-5 hours every Wed. with women that had grandchildren my age. On my third treatment a woman looked at me with shock and told me I was too young to be there. I so badly wanted to respond with "no shit".
The day after my first chemo I had my first pelvic radiation treatment. I was supposed to have that the day before, but the machine broke. 25 rounds of external radiation. They told me side effects don't normally start until the 12-15th treatment. Mine started on #5. With pelvic radiation your entire digestive tract is effected. I couldn't eat, everything made my insides scream and twist. For those 6 weeks I basically lived on cinnamon graham crackers and plain white rice. The only fluid I was able to drink was Gatorade, everything else upset my stomach and I would get dehydrated. The fatigue was incredible. I never knew I could feel so tired and worn down! Even when I was awake my body felt too heavy to move.
I learned to love my chemo days because I received steroids with my meds. That was the 1 day I had any sort of energy or appetite.
After 6 weeks and 25 external radiation therapies, I started the 3 internal high dose radiation treatments. While the HDR was easier on my digestive system, it caused another set of side effects. For a couple days after treatment everything felt "crispy", not to mention the burning sensation every time I went to the bathroom.
All treatments ended in August of 2006. In Sept the chest port was removed. In October I had a blood test done. I had started experiencing hot flashes and really bad mood swings. The results showed I was now in medical menopause. Whether is was due to the shock of the surgery, the chemo, or the radiation...nobody knows, and it doesn't really matter either. I started on hormone replacement therapy (Premarin).
Everything went well for a couple months. I put back on the 20+ pounds I lost during treatments. In the end of January/beginning of February of 2007 a new set of issue arose. I was told prior to radiation that the doctor was concerned about a "loop of intestine" that had moved and basically fell after surgery. The radiation doc was worried about this causing an adhesion later on. Dr. S said the treatments were necessary, and that adhesions normally take 2-3 years to develop. We would deal with it "IF and when" it happens.
6 months after treatments ended I started having problems eating. Every time I ate I would end up in pain for a couple hours afterward. Somedays it was so bad I would go home to my heating pad and percocet. I was put on a low residue diet. I wasn't allowed to eat fresh fruits or veggies, anything fried, little-to-no dairy, whole grains, and the list went on. It was easier to say I was on a high carb diet. I was losing anywhere from 1-4 pounds a week until I learned how to control my pain.
The end of May I went to the ER. I was in a LOT of pain and unable to hold food down. After a CT scan I was admitted into the hospital by our camp. Major obstruction now. I was put on IV fluids only...not even ice chips were allowed. 2 days later I was brought back to my home hospital. Because it was a holiday weekend, I wasn't able to see Dr. S until the 4th day of being hospitalized. On the 4th day I was told the contrast from the CT scan was just beginning to reach my colon. I was given the option of waiting this out or going to surgery. Dr. S told me I would definately need the surgery at some point in the future though. We scheduled surgery for the next day. Afterwards I was told I made the right choice, there was no way I would have left without it. And of course the couldn't use the same incision made for the hysterectomy...I now have a horozontal scar and a vertical scar...they look like an upside down cross. Like I'm marked by 'the beast'.
Less than a week after that surgery my bladder decided it had had enough. It no longer wanted to function properly. I had no control over it while I slept. After much embarassment I swallowed my pride and went to a urologist. My bladder was scarred and inflammed. I was told it was "pissed off" for lack of a better term. I was put on Detrol LA. Thankfully it has helped get things back under control, but there are still those occaisions.
Most recently I had a scare of recurance due to an enlarged lymph node. I was fortunate to have negative results on the PET scan, and was diagnosed with lymphedema. This is another life-long condition, but at least its one I can control with rest and compression socks.
I still can't eat right, but I've learned how to manage things, and they do improve every day. Just the other day I was able to eat a small portion of salad. It had been 2 years since I managed to do that without becoming sick!! It's the little accomplishments that make me realize just how far I've come. I have learned an awful lot in this journey. Some things I never wanted to know. Others have made me become a better person. But one of the best parts of the entire experience is the amazing people that have come into my life because of it. The doctors, the nurses, the support from message boards (www.hystersisters.com was a sanity saver!), and people in my life that I never would have bonded with otherwise.
Cancer has turned my life upside down and inside out...but it didn't take me down. I'm proud to call myself a cancer SURVIVOR.
1B1 cervical adenocarcinoma
Okay this might not be what you all would consider a "cool" blog but I thought it was pretty neat. This blog is all about cancer and this past week they have been writing about cervical cancer. Some of the posts include Treatment of Cervical Cancer Screening For Cervical Cancer and Cervical Cancer Basics
Please remember I am not saying that this blog great or awful, just that its there. I want to gather as much information and resources so that I can educate myself and offer that same opportunity to all of you. It makes me happy to see blogs like this paying attention to cervical cancer. Don't forget that cervical cancer is the second cancer killer of women behind breast cancer. This means its much more serious than we, as a country, believe it is. Too many women are so misinformed. If we have any chance of overcoming cervical cancer we have to start with educating people on what it is, how it is treated, how it is contracted, how it attacks etc....
I hope you all find this site helpful. There are other posts on other cancers so definitely take a look around:
I have to say I am so glad that I blogged it out (as my friend Jess calls it). Upset would not properly describe how I felt yesterday after receiving the email I shared with you. I got so upset that I actually had a flare up and was in terrible pain last night. The worst pain I have had in 6 months.
I hesitated to blog about it then I heard Jess's voice in my head "Blog it out" so thats what I did and wow did it help. I needed to hear from my bloggy friends because I was so angry, confused and insulted by Darryl's email. I felt personally attacked and I guess I was! So thank you my friends for setting me straight and helping me get over this little incident quickly.
Its not easy being a voice, I know this. However, knowing its not easy does not then make it easy. This is something I will have to face many times over if I want to continue sharing my cancer journey. Hopefully I will get better at dealing with those who chose to see me as an enemy or a person who is trying to generate fear. Your help gives me the strength to brush it off and keep moving forward, THANK YOU!
Don't forget to get into this weeks giveaway and this months!
I am always looking for information about HPV and Cervical cancer so I can learn more and share it with all of you. Today I came across this Post that was discussing the bad things about the vaccine. While I am not a "proponent" of the vaccine per se I do like to share my story because I think it is an important factor one should consider when deciding if the vaccine is right for them.
I was absolutely shocked when I got this e-mail in response:
Thanks for your comment on my blog. Normally I would just pass approve it and move on, because I'm interested in broadcasting both sides of the story, but this time I feel very ambivalent about it. The view you express seems to be that girls should take the vaccine because it could happen to them anyway, despite the true statistics - and you are using your experience to justify that. I don't want to sound callous, but we all get in cars every day knowing there's the possibility we could have a serious accident through no fault of our own, yet we don't condemn bouycott the roads.
I'm interested in actual genuine research, not the voicing of one person's misfortune used to justify the mass medication of the youth. Here are some things that we know:
(a) Most cervical cancer is caused by HPV.
(b) Most HPV is sexually transmitted and therefore avoidable with careful monogamous relationships.
(c) The media are grossly misrepresenting the risks to young people
(d) Vaccines contain mercury and are harmful to people, and should be
avoided unless "necessary."
The big question is how necessary is necessary. And on that you and I clearly differ.
Could I get lung cancer even though I don't smoke? Yeah, it's possible. If there was a lung cancer vaccine, would I take it? Hell, no. When vaccines do harm, it is not as simple as take the vaccine anyway because you just might get cancer.
My own suspicion is that pharmacuticals are big business, and what we are seeing here is the mass medication of our youth for profiteering at the tax-payer's expense.
I don't want to sound mean or unfair, but as someone who works in a school, this issue is close to my heart, and I can't justify publishing the unmerited fear that your comment generates - fear that is not in line with known facts.
I'm really sorry it happened to you. Genuinely. And I wish you well.
So my bloggy friends I ask you to please tell me what you think! And...please tell Darryl what you think too. In fact here is his email: email@example.com
Honestly I already wrote him back and gave him a piece of my mind but because im still fuming I thought I would blog about it and maybe that would make me feel better! Im very sensitive about my cancer and this actually hurt my feelings.
And....anyone who knows me knows that I do not preach or stand on a pedestal telling others what to do. All I did was invite Darryl to read my blog and to "meet" someone who has experienced Cervical Cancer. That its something that can happen. I can't believe he wrote that he is interested in telling the other side.....GRRRRRRRRRRR!
Yes its true many days I experience at least an hour of anxiety, sadness and fear. Most times I push through my "cancer" anxieties but there is always one point in the day when the big C stops me in my tracks. Yes I beat cancer but what people don't understand is that Cancer is always a part of who I am now. If I were to say, "im over it, I beat it and now its over" that would be a big fat lie!
Stupid commercials usually bring out my fears, thanks a lot ABC, NBC and CBS...you too Lifetime! Who would have thought Tampon commercials would make me shed a tear of regret and loss. Oh and then there's the Boniva commercial about bone loss, thats a real tear jerker! Lets not forget those whimsical commercials with the pipe people who can't hold their bladders, yup that one too. These commercials remind me of how I am different from the rest of the healthy, happy thirty something women out there. Those commercials are either directed at me or are things that no longer apply to me. I can never escape the constant reminders that I HAD CANCER.
Wow...it still shocks me! I never imagined that I would get CANCER. That I would be unable to have children. That I would miss my stupid period. That I would have bone loss problems at age 30. That I would wear diapers. That I would need bladder control medication. But I guess thats the way life goes, you never know!
My blog has been chosen as the Featured blog in the Blogging Communit GLC Zone. GLC stands for Grow Learn Change and there are a bunch of wonderful blogs there, check it out.
For those of you who are visiting me from the GLC Zone, WELCOME! This is my place to document my journey through Advanced Cervical Cancer, to bring awareness to the terrible disease called Cervical Cancer and others through their cancer journeys. I have lots of posts, 105 to be exact, so I thought I would provide a link to some of my favorite posts for you to read through.
- The Beginning: this post is about my misdiagnosis and struggle trying to get help.
- Finally I go to the Emergency Room: this post is about my actual cancer diagnosis.
- Getting To Massachusetts: this post discusses my difficult journey to Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
- Hope The Scariest Word in the Dictionary: this post deals with my face of with death.
- Back To School: a post about returning to school after fighting cancer.
- The Subject of Having Children: this post talks about how I deal with cancer stealing my ability to have children of my own.
- Pee Bags, a New Look: this one speaks for itself
- Supporting Someone Through Cancer: My dear friend wrote this post and it was so great I re-posted it!
- My Very First Tattoo: This post is about my Radiation Tattoo's
- Miami Ink Tattoo: This post is about my debut on the Television show Miami Ink
- Battle Wounds: This post is about the emotional and inner scars cancer leaves you with.
I also want to take this opportunity to tell you about my other blogs, Get The Bean and GTB Fight Cancer My boyfriend and I decided to start an online coffee shop and use that to raise money to fight cancer. Please stop by and see how you can drink coffee and help me fight ALL cancer!
Unfortunately I have been hearing about many of you who have loved ones fighting cancer. This can be a very scary, frustrating and lonely experience. Supporting someone through cancer is not like bringing soup to a friend who has a cold. Its hard to know what to say, how to act or even what to bring to your friend when you visit.
I've written several post about supporting a loved one through cancer because I understand how difficult it is. Here are a couple if you would like to check them out now:
How to Support a Loved One Through Cancer
What can I do for My Loved One
Part 2 of What Can I do for My Loved One
Those are just a couple of posts on my blog about helping someone through their journey battling cancer. Here is an article that I came across and thought might be helpful. Thank you everyone for sharing your stories and supporting me through my journey.
I think this is a very good resources and wanted to share it with you. As I have mentioned time and again Cervical Cancer is a very serious disease. It is also a disease that most people know little about. But if you are reading my blog you are learning, as am I. Not only are you learning something that could save your life you are also arming yourself to help save others. You are not too afraid, embarrassed or closed minded to talk about HPV and Cervical Cancer.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources states "Cervical cancer is a disease that can be very serious. However, it is a disease that you can help prevent. Cervical cancer occurs when normal cells in the cervix change into cancer cells. This normally takes several years to happen, but it can also happen in a very short period of time. The good news is that there are ways to help prevent cervical cancer. By getting regular Pap tests and pelvic exams, your health care provider can find and treat the changing cells before they turn into cancer."
To read more about Cervical Cancer and find helpful phone numbers and websites please visit WOMENSHEALTH.GOV and be sure to book mark the site. You never know when someone will come to you asking for advice and/or help. This could be the resource that saves a persons life. I don't mean to sound dramatic but if someone had known enough to say to me, "Meaghan I think you may have Cervical Cancer" maybe things would have turned out differently. Even doctors didn't have the sense to alert me to Cervical Cancer. That means we have to arm ourselves and watch out for eachother!
As always thanks for being so supportive and inspiring me to keep learning and sharing what I find!
And you have to stop by my Get The Bean Blog and see today's recipe: Coffee Cake Pancakes!
I will be graduating from law school in a month! This is an unbelievable accomplishment for me. Most of you know I was diagnosed with 3b cervical cancer during my second year of law school. Told I only had a 20% chance of surviving I knew I would never be able to finish law school. Even if I survived I couldn't imagine going back after surviving something as devastating and paralyzing as Cancer.
I did return to law school only 6 months after diagnosis and one month after being cleared of cancer. It was a difficult journey however, nothing could compare the difficulties I endured fighting cancer. Now I am proud to say that I am only a month away from accomplishing something that seemed unaccomplishable.
I've decided to have a little graduation party and was wondering if any of you creative gals had some good ideas for the party. I am having a HUGE party in Massachusetts after I take the bar but I felt like I should also have one after my actual graduation (in FL). So any creative ideas would be greatly appreciated :)
Also, we have a great special going on at Get The Bean. Buy 3 lbs of coffee and we will give you a sample bag of our Pumpkin Spice!
And....if you want to help me raise money to fight cancer check out our charity Coffee
Here is a great article given to me by my good bloggy friend Somewhere In between Im so excited that people seem to be open and interested in learning how to protect themselves and their children against this terrible virus! The more we know the stronger we become, right?!?
This is an article from MSNBC that talks about the links between HPV and 25,000 cancers in the last 5 years! This is scary stuff people. But, just because its scary doesn't mean we should run, we need to stand strong! We need to arm ourselves against HPV and Cervical Cancer and then fight like mad!
Please check this article out, share it and TALK TALK TALK!! When you gain powerful information you need to share it. Help me spread the word and save others from a difficult, scary endless journey that is Cervical Cancer!
If you haven't yet read my story here is a snid bit: Meaghan's Story
After reading that I hope you realize why this is an important article to read:
First I should say that I am not an HPV expert, I am just a woman who lived through 3b Cervical Cancer. I am just a woman who wants to educate others about Cervical Cancer and how to avoid its devastation. I am not here to argue or debate just to put out information for you to read. If you disagree with an article or idea please feel free to leave a comment but seriously, don't be a jackass about it! This is an open forum and I appreciate all opinions but if people start being mean, aggressive or antagonize I won't stand for it! I don't think anyone has all the information regarding HPV and Cervical Cancer and if they did we wouldn't have young woman dying from it!
Here is an article about why Boys should be getting the HPV vaccine as well. If you are interested in learning more about why experts are saying your sons should get the vaccine as well please read the article:
Sorry I was a bum this year and didn't dress up but I wanted to participate so I figured I would put up last years pics. Last year on Halloween I was 3 months cancer free and living life to its fullest. It had been years since I dressed up and went to a Halloween party! I had a blast and enjoyed my chemo skinny body! I'm definitely not that small anymore but hey it was a nice side effect for a little while.
Hope everyone had a great Halloween and Im off to look at all the wonderful pictures!
By the way: We have our 3rd Giveaway up on Get The Bean Blog so check it out and get entered! We are doing a big November Giveaway!