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My Story | Patti E., Florida, USA

Cervical cancer (squamous cell), stage 1, 1995 at 34
Hysterectomy, oophorectomy
Recurrences to lungs (chemotherapy, surgical excision of lung tumors, lobectomy) and trachea (radiation and chemotherapy)

My name is Patti and I am now a four-time cervical cancer survivor. I promise not to go into all the medical details surrounding my story, because: 1) it would make for an awfully long story; and 2) I can't even remember all the details!

I was first diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1995. When I had my annual Pap smear done, it came back as a Class II and, since I'd had prior female problems such as dysplasia, my gynecological oncologist (GYN-ONC) decided to do a biopsy. Sure enough, it was squamous cell cervical cancer. I even had a second biopsy done to be sure.

I didn't have time to grieve about the situation because I was admitted within the week for an emergency hysterectomy/oophorectomy. After the surgery, my doctor gave me the good news that the cancer was in its early stages and, since the lymph nodes were clear, I didn't have to go through any chemotherapy or radiation.

I went on with my life, not really looking back or worrying about the "what ifs." Two years later, however, they found some questionable spots in a routine CT (computed tomography) scan. The spots were in my lungs and, sure enough, a biopsy indicated cervical cancer that had metastasized into both lungs.

I was poked and prodded in order to find a clinical trial I might be suited for. One of the only options for me was a study using a combination of both new (topotecan) and old (cisplatin) chemotherapies. I went through the chemo for four months, and did quite well, if I may say so myself. I worked the entire time and tried to live as normal a life as I could. Of course, that is easier said than done.

Unfortunately, when the chemo treatments were over with, the tumors had not shrunk. The good news was they had not grown any. So, I was referred to a cardiologist who excised the tumors, leaving my lungs intact.

Well, almost a year to the day later, while doing another follow-up CT scan, the doctor found a spot in my right lung. Yikes! This time, he decided to bypass the chemo and have the same cardiologist remove the right lower lobe of my lung.

I had a full recovery with three wonderful, blissful, cancer-free years and THEN ...

My husband and I had relocated to central Florida and I started having breathing problems. I thought it was probably asthma and/or allergies. So, I went to a pulmonologist and, after many tests, he performed a bronchoscopy. My husband and I waited six long, worrisome days until we got the results. When I went in to talk to the doctor, the first word I heard was "carcinoma." This time it had traveled into the trachea!

NO!!! I couldn't believe it was happening again! Why me? Why so many times? I managed to hold back from crying until I got home, and then I screamed, cried, and threw things. I told my husband I wasn't going to deal with it any more! He said, "But you have to, I need you!" So, with a lot of coaxing from him, along with some stubbornness on my part (I was NOT going to let cancer win), I met with the doctors. I had a port surgically implanted for chemo - the whole nine yards - all the while thinking, "Here we go again!" I started another round of chemotherapy combined with radiation treatments.

So, right now I'm finishing up with radiation and chemo. I have five more radiation treatments and two more chemo treatments left. It's been hard because the radiation has really affected my throat; I have a hard time swallowing, but I must say it's all been worth it. I have to admit, though, I continue to worry about the "what ifs," but I think that's somewhat normal, having had cancer recur four times!

So, I just wanted to share my story to let others know that there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and no matter what, don't ever give up!

Update: Since she wrote her story, Patti has finished radiation. Because of her strong immune system, her oncologist has decided to be aggressive, and has increased the strength of her chemotherapy dosages. Patti adds that a few "iffy" things were found in her lungs during her latest CT scan. These will require close monitoring in the months to come.

December 2002

Update: Patti finished her long race with cervical cancer on December 24, 2004. Our hearts go out to Patti's family. Please leave a memory of Patti or some words of comfort for her family on her Tributes and Condolences page.

December 2004

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