20 years ago come August I learned I had cervical cancer. I was three months pregnant. For twins. It was a roller coaster ride from Hell I would not wish on my worst enemy.
My doctor, a man who normally had a wonderful bedside manner, gave me the weekend to make a decision. Abort the twins and treat the cancer OR take my life into my own hands by waiting to treat the cancer until after the twins were born. For ME (and this is NOT a decision anyone else CAN make) the decision was to wait until after the twins were born to do anything about the cancer.
Doctor Moon, a positively wonderful man from South Korea, told me he would rather I had chosen an abortion. I explained to him that I firmly believe abortion should be a "last resort" and since he had already assured me it had been "caught early" I was pretty sure I could handle 6 or 7 months of worry more easily than I could a lifetime of "what if" and self-recriminations.
6 weeks after the twins were born I had about half the thickness of my cervix removed. A few days later I started chemotherapy. My babies were 6 weeks old and until the day I started chemo I was breastfeeding them. That stopped when the poison of chemo entered my body.
The underlying cause of my cancer was HPV. A few years and several more pap smears, several more biopsies ("just to be sure") and I started thinking "We seem to have this licked" - more fool me.
14 years later, a different doctor looked at me following a cervical biopsy, one of more than a dozen I had in the time since the first diagnosis, and informed me I had cervical cancer. You know, it is no easier to hear those words the second time than it was to hear them the first.
On the other hand, *I* had changed. I had grown tired of pap smears every 6 months. I had grown tired of having to have a biopsy EVERY time there was any abnormality in my pap smear results. I had also gotten old enough so that I had no more desire for children and was tired of the old "monthly visits" from hormones.
I looked at the doctor that afternoon and said "Take the damn thing out!"
On October 8, 2008 I had a hysterectomy.
I have never taken artificial hormones. Equally, I have never suffered a "hot flash" - on the other hand OMG have I ever suffered through COLD flashes. Imagine it being 90+ outside and wearing longjohns, sweatshirts, heavy socks, etc... whilst huddling under blankets because you are absolutely FREEZING. I don't have to imagine it. I've been that woman dressed like a visitor to Antarctica in the winter whilst shivering under several layers of blankets.
All kidding aside, I'd rather deal with the side effects of screwed up hormones due to a hysterectomy than I would hear the words "I'm sorry, you have cervical cancer" again.
That roller coaster ride from Hell is a bitch and I am very glad to be OFF that ride. That I would do whatever was necessary to lower the chances my daughters might get on that roller coaster from Hell goes without saying.
YES! My girls HAVE had the vaccine.