Edumacation

As you may expect, we’ve fielded a few questions this week about my cervical cancer, and I thought it might be useful to write a post about it here.

When we see/hear the word “cancer”, we usually think of tumors, hospitalization, radiation, chemotherapy, weakened bodies and bald heads.  But in truth not all cancers are like this.  “Cancer” is kind of a catch-all term, but there’s a much deeper nitty-gritty to classification, and there can be a lot of variety in the behaviour & treatment of different types.

The early stages of cervical cancer tend to be limited to the cervical area, and doesn’t spread, so the treatment is just a straight-up “cut it out” procedure.  In advanced stages, cervical cancer can become invasive and affect neighbouring organs, lymph nodes, etc – and in those cases, a more aggressive surgery is needed, plus radiation/chemo to kill off what they can’t reach with a knife.

Lucky for me, we caught this really early, so I won’t need any radiation/chemo.  The LEEP should cut out the offending cells, and they will keep a close eye on me for at least a year to make sure that nothing new grows back.  There are all sorts of statistics about whether it will grow back, but with good screening and prompt treatment, it can be controlled, and is not life-threatening.

Also, I am fortunate that cervical cancer doesn’t tend to have any outward symptoms, at least in the early stages, like mine.  I don’t feel sick or weak, and don’t expect to.  The LEEP surgery is easy (far easier than the cryosurgery I had a few years ago), and has a very short recovery time.  When I had my first LEEP in February, I was quite surprised that I felt “normal” within a day.  Of course, it takes much longer than a day for the cervix to heal from the surgery (4-6 weeks), but for the most part I didn’t feel it.

Perhaps of greater impact than the physical details are the emotional and psychological ones.  It takes a great deal of effort and patience to get through all the appointments, release forms and discussions.  And, if I were not also trying to get pregnant, this would be a much simpler and easier process.

Hopefully that answers some of the questions you might have.  I’m not at all squeamish about answering questions, or talking about my experience/treatment, so please do ask if you want to.

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2 Responses to “Edumacation”

  1. Arwen Says:

    I imagine I’d find hardest all the juggling of pregnancy and treatment options, and all the emotions around that.
    I think you’re doing very well.

  2. Jenny Says:

    I had a friend years ago who went through the same thing. Cervical cancer and wanting to have babies after treatment. She’s had three daughters since being granted a clean bill of health. It wasn’t simple, she stopped getting her period after her surgery and had to go through treatments to get that going again, but once her cycles were back on track she had no difficulties conceiving. I don’t know if this helps you, but it may inspire hope so I thought I would share 🙂

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