Sharing my story about cervical cancer awareness, HPV awareness. Today was a day like any other. With the small exception of I crested the six month mark. Most of my family does not know with the exception of my husband, sister, father-in-law, my mother (for what it’s worth that she knows) and my kids, that I just hit the six month mark to check if my cancer has returned. Now some of you may be thinking, well she looks perfectly damn healthy, she tweets, works, and she has made no mention. All of which is true, true, true and leads me to writing this post.
In April I went to the doctor to have my annual check-up, a look under the hood per se to see that my girl’s engine was still running at capacity and even after the twins seemed to have done her in, she was looking good. Your normal run of the mill trip, blah blah vagina, birth control (since my periods suck), explaining that my husband had a vasectomy so really birth control is for vanity not sanity, standard procedures. Until I did not get my results back. I waited and waited and thought, fuck it, no news is good news and then my doctor’s office receptionist called me on the phone. While I was driving to my sisters. With two sick kids in the car. Fabulous. Taken back by what the hell was going on, the call was very abrupt and went something like this, “Karie Herring? Yes, Hi we need to schedule your biopsy.”
I wasn’t quite sure how to respond. My initial fight or flight reaction was, what the fuck are you talking about biopsy, get me the doctor you stupid twit. Wanting someone who had more than a GED delivering details to me about my health, Â I was too stunned to make such demands. I told her I would call back I was in the car and asked to get more details, she matter of factly stated, “Your condition is serious, you need to get this handled, do not delay on calling us back.”
Fuck you do not delay, bitch tell me what the fuck this is, why do I need a biopsy. Blessed be for smart phones, while I am distraught and attempting to Google my condition, the emotions and epiphany hits me. Then the results are displayed on my phone. I am a mess. Eyes are burning and welling with tears, struggling to find a breath to fight them back, then immediately questioning my mortality. My mental state of emotional wreck and composure is off and on like this for the following 20 minutes before arriving at my sisters where she has been so kind to take my kids since they were sick and could not be at school the remainder of the day. I drop off my kids and begin my drive back to work. Focused and composed, crying and clueless, for 45 minutes until I re-enter the parking garage, straighten myself and head back into work. Wanting to do nothing but leave and Google all there is to know I suffer through the next two hours before heading back to my sisters to retrieve my kids. Not until I get home do I just about fall apart to my husband, rock, best friend about my news.
The eternal optimist reassures me everything will be fine. Being the eternal realist, I disregard his words and off to Google I go. Spending hours on my laptop and researching biopsies, abnormal paps and the worst case scenarios I am at ease and pissed off again. An emotional roller coaster of guessing games brought on from the dipshit that called me who has a better chance of taking a drive through order minus pickles than disseminating information regarding women’s health. I am infuriated that the doctor did not call me. Casting aside my disdain I set out to make my biopsy appointment and did so within a few weeks.
Biopsies suck. Preparedness is key. Bring drugs; Tylenol, Advil, Pamprin, whatever your poison bring it because I would have rather had my C-Section sans drugs than to go through this biopsy. I was placed on the exam table in the standard stirrup position. Then the butcher went to work on my cervix, what felt like carving as she kept “going in”, as if deep sea diving. A mess again and no one is talking me through this except my sister, holding my hand so I can keep from punching someone as I endure the pain being inflicted. 20 minutes of cervical torture to tell me that I need to have another procedure, like a biopsy they said, so they can be sure they have treated me. Treated me for what exactly. I hammered away questions, what the hell is this, what did you find, what the fuck is going on and why are you keeping me in the dark? Question upon question comes with no answers. I am pissed. I begin to walk out, in pain and pissed, ready to deal harm like no ones business when drive-thru girl yells out to me, “Ma’am!! Ma’am! You have to make your appointment?”
Call me the poltergeist as I spun around to growl at the twit, “Am I not allowed to leave unless I make an appointment?” Her meek reply, ” Well…no” to which I fired back at her, “I will fucking call you, I need to leave and you need to not waste anymore of my time.”
I was hot. As far as hot messes go…hell hath no fury. My sister and I bantered about the event and I was completely dissatisfied with the ordeal. I went about with life, ignoring, diddling, going about the usual. Until I received a disturbing phone call at work where the doctor asked why I didn’t want to take anti-depressants for my fucked up periods. Dumbfounded at her recent call to psychiatry I ask what her specialty is again, gynecology. Great, thanks. How is this relevant to your mining in my vagina and at my cervix. At that time she explains my condition without explaining my condition. Her response, “You have severe dysplasia, known as CIN3 and without the procedure I cannot go into the details about cancer.”
Okay you drop the C-word on me, won’t explain anything. Let’s take inventory. I begin to grill her and get details, wanting to know more she refuses to tell me Â until I schedule a consultation. What exactly are you going to consult me. I want answers not a fucking remodel of my vagina and cervix. Refusing me information, I refused her the consultation and the procedure. I advised her I needed more details about my condition and her “procedure.” Of which she sends me in the mail, two weeks later, what appears to be a pamphlet similar to a time share. Limited, vague, unanswered. Google here I come. So I am revisiting Google again with a detailed phrase: CIN3. Again, greeted with my mind reducing my mortality. She dropped the word cancer but did so to instill fear, a fear that I now find to be real. The reality that I have a form of cancer. I Google stalked the terms and what exactly I was afflicted with which is cancer that has not invaded my soft tissue and at this time is localized. $49.99 later…thank you Cox Communications and Google for the answers. I digress. But now I have answers and more questions. A few weeks later I get a call yet again at my office from the doctor. Infuriated by her persistence to yield a buck but not answer questions I fire the half wit and tell her she has failed to disclose and fully comply with my requests and she is incompetent and money hungry.
Finding another doctor takes me no time. I am in the office within a week, and I verbally barrage the new doctor with my situation, my ordeal with the dipshit who wouldn’t answer my questions no matter how many times I angled it, and I angled it, I worked in sales for many years, objections were non-existent to me. Coming up for air I let my knew doctor speak, who confirms my self education about my diagnosis. The burning in my eyes starts again but I fight it, holding my composure because I have with me the husband. My protector, the mighty and valiant knight. He then digs, investigates, questions, more answers, answers that make sense. Finally, the last question, “If the procedure does not clear all the cancer within the ranges what are our next steps?” Leading me to just about go over the edge as my jaw burns from fighting back the tears and the lip quiver leading into a full blown crying episode. Oncologists, specialists, and the reassurance of I will not let you die young comes out. Strangely I am at ease. Within another two weeks I am back in the office for a LEEP procedure which was easier than the biopsy but worse for the senses.
A few short days later I am advised that my pathology report has already come back and everything looks good. The LEEP appears to have cut away the cancerous tissues. Which segues into today, my six month check up, run of the mill pap smear with the hopes and prayers that I am still cancer free. While I am not free from HPV, the cancer is what was of imminent concern. I will share more about HPV, who has it, who can get it and how it can affect you. It affected me without me knowing, no symptoms and with it altering my life forever. I just know that my actions of going completely organic almost 4 years ago is my pro-action in my attempt to prevent cancer in myself and my kids. It can happen anytime and to anyone and I am thankful each day for this happening to me, for the opportunity to share and learn with and for others. How has cancer touched your life?