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I just found out I have cervical cancer.

monroek1
Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2010

I'm having a really hard time dealing with my diagnosis. I found out on Thursday that I've got cervical cancer, but we won't know until Tuesday how far it's spread. I'm really afraid that it's affected other parts of my body because I've had the symptoms for a long, long time. I wasn't entirely shocked at the news, but I was devastated none-the-less.
I'm still pretty upset.
I feel alone, even though I'm not. I feel scared, regretful, angry, anxious... I have moments of confidence and moments of inspiration, but the waves of sadness and despair crash heavily like breakwater on the shoreline.
I could really use some comfort and support.
I have so many questions. Like:
What is the survival rate of cervical cancer patients?
How do I know I can fully trust my doctor?
Should I get multiple opinions and how much precious time will that waste?
Can I still have sex?! What will sex be like after a radical hysterectomy (which was suggested, but we'll know more after my PET scan on Tuesday)?
What kind of nutrition plan should I begin? Is it safe to travel during treatment?
How long does treatment last?
How do I deal with these crying spells?
How do I communicate my feelings to others?
All sorts of things plague my mind and I feel like I'm drowning. I'm so scared.

beckyracn's picture
beckyracn
Posts: 323
Joined: May 2009

monroek,
First of all, you are not a statistic, so forget about that...you have enough on your plate. Second, everything you are feeling is normal. You've just taken a seat on a very large roller coaster that has many dips and turns...things will happen unexpectedly, parts will go smoothly, and there will be many times that you'll want to yell "Stop. I've had enough and I want to get off" but you won't be able to. Just as suddenly as it all started...it will be over. Then you are left standing there asking "What next?"
Listen to what your doctor has to say. Many of them don't offer answers unless you ask them. Write them down as they come up, then take them with you on each appt. You may even want to take a friend/family member, because in your state of mind, much of it can be forgotten. It will be up to you if you feel comfortable with your doc. If you don't, it's time to move on or get a second opinion. If the tumor is operable, the PET should confirm, then a rad. hyster. is usually the first choice. You will be able to resume sex when you heal...all of us experience it differently. Depending on the stage of the disease, it is usually followed by chemo (cisplatin) along with radiation (external and possibly internal). The length of treatment will also depend on the extent of your disease. At the end of treatment, you will be given a dilator that you will be instructed to use 3xweek, or have regular intercourse, to keep the scar tissue from building up in your vagina.
The doc can give you an anti-anxiety med if your really toughing it out or some women start on anti-depressants. They don't have to be long term, but can take the edge off.
You may find that trying to get those around you to understand what you are feeling/going through may be difficult. If they have not been in this boat themselves, it's hard for them to truly grasp what you are going through. You may find that when some people find out about your diagnosis, they will disappear from your life. It may be because they don't know what to say to you, that your contagious, or their own heightened level of fear. Keep coming back to this board. All of us here know exactly what your feeling and going through...we will always be here for you...through out the journey.
Eat healthy...your body is going to need all it's strength it can muster.
Now...GO OUT THERE AND FIGHT LIKE A GIRL!!! YOU CAN DO THIS!!!
Keep us posted. ((HUGS))
Becky

Kar1
Posts: 4
Joined: Sep 2010

I'm sorry that you have to go through this. The best way to handle it is day by day. Every time I thought I had it figured out something would change. I finally learned to take it day by day. Prayer helps with the crying spells and everything else.

I was diagnosed with stage 2B cervical cancer in March 2010 and finished treatment the end of June.I didn't have a hysterectomy, but did have chemo and radiation. Another woman had chemo on the same schedule as me for awhile. She had been diagnosed in January 2010 with stage 4. Both of us were told by our doctor that it should be curable. I have my followup petscan in a couple weeks, but so far from pelvic exams cancer seems to be gone.

Only you can decide whether you trust your doctor. In my case I was told that there were only 3 gynecology oncologists in my location. The one I was referred to was highly recommended and incredibly busy. I met him a few days after my petscan. You won't get results from your petscan until you see your doctor. There are so many people involved in treatment for cervical cancer that it is unlikely that your doctor would get the diagnosis or treatment wrong. The radiologist, nurses and therapist are the ones that I saw the most. Also you may learn that other women around you have gone through treatment and have seen the same doctor. Your doctor should tell you what stage your cancer is at and explain what that means. You should also get an overview of what kind of treatment is planned. Make sure you know the requirements of your insurance. If you need to stay in network, tell your doctor.

Don't get too stressed about a nutrition plan at this point. It took about a month between the time I was diagnosed and when I began treatment. You probably won't change your health greatly during that amount of time. Once you begin treatment the doctors are satisfied as long as you are eating something. Pelvic radiation is hard on the digestive tract, so a low fiber diet without fresh fruit and vegetables is actually better tolerated during treatment. Some people tolerate treatment better than others. You have to remind yourself that what you are going through is temporary. I found myself at the age of 42 wearing depends during the weeks I had treatment. 7-10 days after finishing treatment, I was doing well enough that I didn't need them anymore.

If you feel well during treatment, you could probably do short trips on weekends. Radiation is usually every day M-F. I had external beam radiation for 5 weeks concurrent with once a week chemo. Chemo is a long day. The cisplatin treatment I received is one of the longest chemo treatments they do. It's given by IV, they do a couple hours of hydration before and after in an effort to protect your kidneys. After the 5 weeks I had a one week break before starting internal radiation. I had two treatments a week for a total of 5 treatments. I also had 5 external boost radiation treatments on days I didn't have internal.

The people around me seemed to all have some experience with people who have had cancer or had it themselves. Let people around you know what is going on. You may get a mix of reactions at first. Remember they are just hearing this for the first time and are caught off guard similar to the way you are. Some people know how to be supportive better than others depending on their own experiences. You should find enough people around you to help you through. My coworkers were awesome, they voluntarily took over mowing my lawn and weeding my garden. During the toughest part of the treatment I stayed with my retired parents. My sister has been living with me and watched the house. You should have a plan in place to manage the parts of your life you may be too tired to handle. That's the part of preparation you should focus on now. The doctors will figure out the medical side of things.

You should feel better once you really know what stage your cancer is at and what the plan of treatment will be. It's the not knowing that really gets to you. If you feel you need to cry, go ahead you're allowed. Just remember although this process is not easy, it is temporary and doable. I find having gone through this that I'm mentally and emotionally stronger. I am also aware of what great support I have around me.

Karen

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