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My Story | Sharon L., North Carolina, USA

Squamous cell cancer of the vulva, stage 3, diagnosed 2004 at 44
Radical partial vulvectomy

My name is Sharon and I will be 45 years old next month. I recently moved to North Carolina from Massachusetts. Over a period of several years I had a handful of gynecologic ailments. An itchy, sore vulva was among my complaints, as was a wart-like growth. I had a D&C (dilation and curettage) and, although the 'growth' looked nasty, I was assured it was harmless.

Two years later I had the growth biopsied and was diagnosed last month with squamous cell carcinoma, termed to be cancer of the vulva because of its location. I also had two smaller tumors that had grown up into my rectum.

Ten days ago I had a radical partial vulvectomy. I spent a night in the hospital, and was allowed to go home the following day - provided I get absolute bed rest, monitor my temperature and blood pressure, and take my pain medication.

At present, I have no infection and the wounds are healing nicely. The location of the stitches, however, caused my skin to tear, so my surgeon removed some of them a few days ago. This morning, I used my magnifying hand mirror to look at my wounds - something I probably should not have done. There is a huge crater where the right side of my vulva used to be - seeing it made my cancer very real to me. I was quite distressed and became depressed about it. I worry about my sex life and pray it hasn't been altered.

While I am healing, my file will go to the 'tumor board' for review and to determine the next course of action. I have stage 3 cancer, hopefully with no lymph involvement. I am nervous about having to have radiation therapy as it can cause shrinkage of the vagina. (I am happy with the size it is now, thankyouverymuch!) My mom, a retired RN, will be here next week to take care of me. She's 73 and I love her so much. I am so lucky to have her in my life. I hope this trip won't be a strain on her. Anyone who would like to could offer up a prayer for us all: Sharon & Greg, Judy, Glenna and my kids, Katie, Ashley & Erica.

I am thankful for this website, and I agree so strongly that there just isn't enough information or support for women with cancer of the vulva.

May 2005

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