Tag Archive | Stage IV cervical cancer

Final Post


February 17, 2015// When i started this blog I needed desperately to gather my thoughts, to sort though all that had happened to me, and to learn to accept this new version of my life. In the beginning I needed the companionship of other cancer survivors, to try to validate all I was feeling. I needed to get the thoughts that continued to roll around in my head under control.

Mission accomplished. January 28, 2015 marked four years cancer free. Perhaps the most notable change is that many, many days go by at a time that the word ‘cancer’ does not enter my conversation – or even my mind. Several months ago a message was put on my heart, and it changed everything for me.

The cancer, the changes to my life, everything I have lost, was not a punishment. It was a gift. I worked hard, sacrificed much to support and raise my children as a single parent when my marriage went bad when I was only 23. My children are now grown, but debt remains. At 43, I was looking at at least twenty to thirty more years of work. Retirement would have likely never been an option for me. Instead, I am now about to turn 48, been retired (on disability) for the last five years, and am free to enjoy my days as I please. Who knew cancer could be a blessing?

I was stage IV. It was bad. It could still come back at any time, that will be my reality for the rest of my life. But I’m still here, and will be for a long time to come. But this blog will not. It’s time to wrap it up, to clear it out and use the space to move forward.

Thank you to everyone who reached out to me, who shared their experiences and well wishes. My thoughts and prayers will remain with those of you who are still fighting, I will always hold a tender thought for the few who did not win the battle.

Hugs,

Lorraine

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Cancer Made My Dreams Come True


First posted December 2013…..

I woke up a couple mornings ago, hours before sunrise. In past years I loved to wake early to enjoy the quite peace of the house before the kids and dogs and TVs came to life for the day. I do it now out of necessity. A recent fight with cancer has left me with chronic pain, becoming stiff and sore if I remain in one position very long. It now takes time and patience to get moving after sleep. While I go through the physical paces of the morning, getting arms and legs and body to all move in the same direction without too much ache, my mind goes through its daily process – thinking of new topics to write about.

Early morning routine complete, I stopped to enjoy a cup of coffee before launching into whatever I had been writing that day. Sitting there, it occurred to me I was happy. This was an unfamiliar feeling for me. I am truly grateful for simply being alive, but admit to frequent sadness over all I have lost. My career was everything to me. Not just means to support my family, but my success or failure at work was directly linked to my self-worth. I’ve spent a lot of time feeling sad and empty since cancer brought my career to an end.

So I was really surprised to feel happy. Taking a minute to examine the change, memory flew back several years to a job interview I once had. This was a final interview with senior management, already being approved by the hiring manager and staff. The interviewer only had one question, “If you woke up tomorrow and a magic genie could grant you one wish – if he could remove all obstacles, guarantee money and success, what would be your dream job?” Without hesitation I responded, “To write. If I had time and money and no responsibility, I would love to spend my time writing.”

I thought about this for a minute. Lasting damage from cancer and treatment has rendered me unable to work. I have downsized my life and outside responsibilities to allow me to have a quiet but sufficient existence on disability pay. Thankfully my mind is still intact (as it’s ever been), so I fill my empty days doing the thing I’ve always loved best, writing. What an unexpected turn of events, cancer made my dream come true.

Seeing Sunrise


End of August 2010 I woke up in pain.  A 15 minute doctor’s appointment ended with the words, “It’s cancer. And it’s bad.” Another visit with another doctor towards the end of January 2011 ended with the words, “We can find no sign of your cancer.”  The weeks and months between the two visits passed in a frenzy of action, allowing little time to process all that was happening…

continue reading…

7 Symptoms Women Should Never Ignore


As a member of the Female Over 40 group, I know we are busier than ever. The pull to multitask our lives – be the perfect wife, mother, employee, boss, student, and caretaker to the world – is only increasing as time goes by. Despite our best efforts we know we cannot do everything, be everything to everyone. The only area we are willing to compromising is ourselves. Even if we manage to squeeze in hair and nail appointments, run to the gym, schedule and keep our annual pap smear and mammogram, we certainly don’t have time to stress over our periods. We want and need them to pass as unnoticed as possible, not interrupting the rapid trot of our fast paced lives. But if we don’t want it all to be brought to a crashing halt, we must be aware of the seven symptoms listed below that WE MUST NOT IGNORE!

1. Change to menstrual flow. A period that is heavier or lighter than normal should be noted.

2. Stronger than normal menstrual cramping. Most women experience some pain during their menstrual cycle, but if you experience more pain than normal during one or more periods, pay attention.

3. Menstrual cramping that lasts after period (menstrual flow) has ended. This should not occur.

4. Menstrual cramping at other times of the month. Many women feel slight discomfort during ovulation, mid-way through the monthly cycle when the egg is released from the ovary. Regular full strength menstrual cramps or other abdominal pain during ovulation or any time other than the days of your period is reason for concern.

5. Unexplained feeling of bloating or fullness in lower abdomen and or pelvic area. These feelings can sometimes be attributed to a urinary tract or vaginal infection. If these are ruled out and the sensations continue, it should be investigated.

6. Unusual pain or pressure during intercourse. Any unusual pain, feeling of pressure or odd unpleasant sensations during intercourse could be a sign something is wrong.

7. Gut Feeling. Trust your instinct. Women are uniquely in tune with their bodies. If you feel something just isn’t right there is a very good chance that you are correct.

My doctor explained that any of these symptoms could happen once and individually and be nothing serious but if recurrent and or grouped together, they could be indicators of serious conditions, including cancer. I wish I had know this sooner. I experienced and ignored each of the symptoms listed above, but since I had recently had a normal pap smear, I made excuses and assumed I was fine. I was not. When I finally saw my doctor after dealing with these symptoms for several months, I was diagnosed with stage four cervical cancer. It was inoperable, having spread to one kidney, my bladder, colon, lymph node, and grown into the tissue of my pelvic wall. I had fantastic doctors who threw every known treatment at me. I am now just shy of three years cancer free, but my body is damaged in irreparable ways, and it was a battle I wish on no one.

If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, please do not wait for your next annual pap smear to discuss with your Gynecologist, schedule an appointment right away. The hour or two the appointment takes out of your schedule now will be well worth it to catch a serious and possibly life threatening condition in its earliest and most treatable stages, and could possibly save your life.

How Cancer Made My Dreams Come True


I woke up a couple mornings ago, hours before sunrise. In past years I loved to wake early to enjoy the quite peace of the house before the kids and dogs and TVs came to life for the day. I do it now out of necessity. A recent fight with cancer has left me with chronic pain, becoming stiff and sore if I remain in one position very long. It now takes time and patience to get moving after sleep. While I go through the physical paces of the morning, getting arms and legs and body to all move in the same direction without too much ache, my mind goes through its daily process – thinking of new topics to write about.

Early morning routine complete, I stopped to enjoy a cup of coffee before launching into whatever I had been writing that day. Sitting there, it occurred to me I was happy. This was an unfamiliar feeling for me. I am truly grateful for simply being alive, but admit to frequent sadness over all I have lost. My career was everything to me. Not just means to support my family, but my success or failure at work was directly linked to my self-worth. I’ve spent a lot of time feeling sad and empty since cancer brought my career to an end.

So I was really surprised to feel happy. Taking a minute to examine the change, memory flew back several years to a job interview I once had. This was a final interview with senior management, already being approved by the hiring manager and staff. The interviewer only had one question, “If you woke up tomorrow and a magic genie could grant you one wish – if he could remove all obstacles, guarantee money and success, what would be your dream job?” Without hesitation I responded, “To write. If I had time and money and no responsibility, I would love to spend my time writing.”

I thought about this for a minute. Lasting damage from cancer and treatment has rendered me unable to work. I have downsized my life and outside responsibilities to allow me to have a quiet but sufficient existence on disability pay. Thankfully my mind is still intact (as it’s ever been), so I fill my empty days doing the thing I’ve always loved best, writing. What an unexpected turn of events, cancer has allowed me to live my dream.

Cervical Cancer Statistics and Prevention


Having recently hit the three year mark of surviving Stage IV cervical cancer, I was curious to find out how many other women were still fighting the battle, or worse, will lose the fight this year. The data I found was startling:

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2014:

  • 45,360 new cases of invasive (cells have spread out of local area) cervical cancer will be diagnosed
  • Non-invasive (cancer cells have not spread from local area) cases will be diagnosed at approximately four times that number
  • And in 2014, 2040 women will die from cervical cancer

Although these numbers are significantly lower than say breast cancer, when it is your wife or mother or sister, or YOU, one woman affected by cervical cancer is too many. Statistics show the mortality rate from cervical cancer has dropped by almost 70% since 1955. This is largely attributed to the increased availability and use of the pap smear. It should be noted though that the pap smear is an excellent tool for early detection, but does not in any way prevent cervical cancer. The HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine shows great promise in preventing the types of cervical cancer caused by HPV. Data to quantify it’s impact is still being collected.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that the median age to be diagnosed with HPV related cervical cancer is 48, and occurs most frequently in Hispanic women, but cervical cancer can affect any woman at any age, for any reason. The only prerequisite for cervical cancer is having a cervix.

The most effective tool in preventing and surviving cervical cancer is knowledge. Do not rely on regularly scheduled GYN visits and pap smears alone. Learn the symptoms. Ask questions. Get educated. In addition to your personal gynecologist, the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, Foundation for Women’s Cancer,American Cancer Society, and LiveStrong Foundation are all wonderful resources.

If you do not have a regular gynecologist or cannot afford the visit, pap smear, or other needed tests, the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (HBCCEDP) can help.

Please do your part to ensure you and all women close to you get educated, vaccinated, and get screened regularly. Fight like a girl and knock cervical cancer out!