My story begins in May of 2018, 3 months after my 35th Birthday. I went in for my yearly pap with my OBGYN of 10 years. My doctor called me a few days later and asked me to come in to do further testing because they found something abnormal deep in my cervix and uterus. I was told not to worry because my HPV test came back negative and I had not had an abnormal pap prior so there was a high percentage it was not cancer. Cancer was not even on the radar of me or my doctor.
I went back one week later for a colposcopy, endocervical curettage and endometrial biopsy. During the exam, my doctor was very positive and encouraging and telling me that she didn’t see anything alarming. After what felt like a lifetime, my appointment was finally done and she said she would have results for me within 3–4 days. It took almost 2 weeks to get my results back because something about my results were not the usual and they wanted a 2nd and 3rd opinion.
On June 18th, the day after Fathers Day, the nurse called me and asked me to come in…before my doctor went on her lunch break. I knew in that moment it was something serious but never in a million years thought it was cancer. My husband and I went to see her at 12pm. We sat down in one of the exam rooms and she came in a few minutes later and told me, “I’m so sorry but you have cervical cancer.” I don’t remember much of that appointment, everything sounded so far away. I cried uncontrollably. My husband asked questions to my doctor. The only thing I could say over and over again was, “My girls. My girls need me. This is not possible.”
My OBGYN referred me to an oncologist that she worked with closely. I saw him the following day. I do not remember anything from that appointment, I couldn’t even tell you one thing that came out of my mouth. I had a radical hysterectomy on August 17th, 2018 and my official diagnosis was Cervical Cancer, stage 1BII, Adenosquamous cell carcinoma.
I was so confident after my 1-year cancerversary. I had less than 4% chance of it coming back since nothing showed in my surrounding tissues and lymph nodes during my radical hysterectomy the previous year. So when it came back with a vengeance three months later, after a completely clear scan at the beginning of August, we were devastated and blindsided again.
I was in a dark place mentally when we heard the news of the reoccurrence. It was an extremely difficult few weeks. I showed my bravery in front of my family and friends but especially with my two young daughters who had just turned 8 and 5. But any chance I had to be alone, usually in the shower or at night after the family was in bed, I would sob uncontrollably. I would constantly list in my head the things I would need to write down for my husband to help him navigate life with two girls and the different stages they would be going though in their life. I would brainstorm the type of letters I wanted to write to my daughters for all of their birthdays and milestones. I was planning for the complete worst-case scenario, death.
It wasn’t until I had my head shaved that something in my mind just shifted. My hair started falling out 2 weeks after my first treatment. And I continued to be emotionally and physically drained. Crying episodes multiple times a day. I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t eating, I laid around all day. We had my head shaved on Dec 8th and I woke up on Dec 9th a whole new woman and the fire within me only continues to grow each day. It was time for me to take back my life. I have daughters who need their momma. A momma who needs to be present, not lying on the couch in my own thoughts planning the letters I would leave for them. I have always been a hands on mom and I chose to take that back. Cancer doesn’t get to own that part of me and take that away. It already stripped so much away from me but no way in hell was it going to take me away from my family.
By Becky Wallace