My Story | Patti E., Florida, USA
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!