Cervical Cancer – my treatment, my story (part 1)
As mentioned in my earlier post, I have promised to share what kind of treatment I had to undergo for cervical cancer. Before any treatment went ahead, a biopsy was initially carried out to confirm its cancerous. Once it was confirmed, the next step was to establish what stage my cancer. Based on CT scans results indicated that the cancer was localized and didn’t spread beyond the cervix. This meant my cancer was Stage 1 and can be treated. The best course of treatment as per my gynaecologist is to have a radical hysterectomy where by my entire uterus and the upper part of my vagina is surgically removed. The medical term for this is Wertheim’s hysterectomy.
The surgery was scheduled 1 week after my diagnosis. During all the initial tests and scans done, I was alone. I broke the news to my family once the results was confirmed. No surprises that it was an immense shock. The slew of usual questions cropped up “What happened?”, “How did this happen?”, “What happens now?”. When I think back, I should have prepared a FAQ. I had to repeat countless times.
You may think all this time, what was I thinking? To be honest, I had stayed cool, calm and collected. Yes, I had my moment alone where I broke down and cried. I even posed the questions “What now?”. This alters my life in more ways than one. I programmed my mind that I had to stay focus and let the doctor’s do what they need to do. I did not allow this disease get the better of me.
When the surgery day came, I jumped into a cab and took myself to the hospital. A family friend met me at the hospital filling out the necessary paperwork. My sister was coincidentally in Europe on vacation and returning on the day of my surgery. I didn’t want her to cut short her trip. I re-assured that everything will be ok. My boss at the time also showed up at the hospital to lend his support. Surgery took place in the afternoon. It is expected to last at least 3.5 hours. Before I went under the gas, my gynaecologist said to me “No fear, ok”. I replied “No fear”.
I remembered waking up feeling very groggy from the anaesthesia. At the same time, I was in so much pain. I could hear voices but barely make out the faces of people around my bed. I could hear my sister’s voice telling she was there. I kept murmuring that “it’s so painful” over and over. Morphine has already been administered but I was still in excruciating pain. It felt like an eternity before I fell asleep.
The next day, the doctor came around for post op check. He explained that he sent another biopsy sample for further testing and discovered some of the cancer cells has spread into some of the surrounding lymph nodes. Results showed that it wasn’t Stage 1 anymore. It has moved up to Stage 2B. In addition to the surgery, I had to include radiation as part of my treatment. I will separately blog on the radiation treatment.
As most women would understand, a hysterectomy means the choice to procreate ends right here. Of course for some, this is a personal choice. But it my case it was necessary. For me, I felt saddened when my free will to have babies in the future is no longer available. I love kids! I am great with kids and always possessed great maternal instincts. I had to mentally accept that bearing my own children was no longer a choice. Looking back, some parts of me have some regrets for not having kids sooner but I have to move forward in my life.
What did I learn at this stage of the treatment? I just told myself “This is another hurdle I had to overcome”. I have to stay positive and strong.
Till the next post, good night from me.