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Overcoming Cervical Cancer

Photo by: na

My name is Michelle Whitlock and I am a cervical cancer survivor. Like most little girls, I dreamed of growing up, meeting prince charming, getting married and having children. But my life took an unwanted detour.

In Dec 2001, at 26 I was busy climbing the corporate ladder while completing my degree. I thought I had all the time in the world for those childhood dreams of marriage and motherhood. But I was wrong. My world came to a screeching halt with my diagnosis of cervical cancer. I was stunned!

Just a few weeks earlier I had gone in for my annual Pap, just like I had for the last ten years. But this time she performed the then new digeneHPV test. The Pap came back normal but I tested positive for high risk HPV. My doctor called me in for biopsies, a leep procedure and conization. I didn’t understand the need for all these other procedures, because like most women, I believed a normal Pap Test meant everything was fine, that I was fine. But I wasn’t fine, I had Stage IB1 cancer. Thank God, my Doctor preformed the HPV test!

The doctor recommended a radical hysterectomy which would leave me infertile. I refused. I didn’t have children, I wasn’t married and I’d only been dating my boyfriend for 6 month. My dreams were unraveling fast.

Determined to fight, I researched my options, got a second opinion and asked my doctor all the tough and uncomfortable questions. I learned about a new fertility sparing procedure, called the radical trachelectomy. I chose that option!

But just two years later, in April 2004 only days after my boyfriend proposed, my worse fear became a reality—my cancer was back. My doctor immediate insisted I have a radical hysterectomy. I kept thinking not now, this is suppose to be my fairy tale ending. Desperate to preserve my fertility, I sought out a second opinion and did more research. My new doctor helped me find a reproductive endocrinologist. My doctor reluctantly agreed to give me eight weeks before my surgery. During that time I started fertility treatment, harvested my eggs and froze 7 embryos. One week later I flew to Jamaica and got married and ten days after that checked in Methodist Mid-Town Hospital and had my radical hysterectomy, partial vaginalectomy and lymph node dissection followed by weeks of chemo and radiation.

I found myself at twenty-nine with a whole host of new conditions courtesy of my cancer treatments: menopause, sexual dysfunction, and radiation damage to both my bowels and hips. I found myself faced with the reality that I would never be able to create life inside me. It was devastating both physically and emotionally. I spent my first few years married trying to piece back together my shattered life with the help of my loving husband.

Today, I am 5 years in remission and grateful to be here. My husband and I are trying to have a child with the help of a gestational carrier (surrogate). 9/28/09—We are 33 weeks pregnant finally!

Cervical cancer changed my life forever but No other woman needs to lose her life or fertility to this disease. Today, we have the tools for prevention and early detection. Please join me in spreading the word because together our voices are stronger than mine alone.

You can learn more about preventing cervical cancer at Pearl of Wisdom , and on Michelle’s site.

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45 Comments

Michelle,

I too am a cervical cancer survivor THANK GOD. I also went through the similar emotions. The word RADICAL hysterectomy very very final. I am glad you did your research and made the decisions and took control of the situation that will make life more managable for you. When faced with the news we than have to step back and decide for us. My pray is for you to continue to be healthly and that your marriage is strong and your babies will be happy bouncing life of love.

Oh my heart goes out to you. What a tough road you've had. Soon you'll be able to enjoy your own child. God bless. That's what makes it all worth it. You'll be in my thoughts & prayers.

I admire your courage through your years of struggles. I, too, had been diagnosed with cervical cancer, but because it was caught early enough, only had to have the lesions removed. I didn't have to face all of the other things you have had to. I still do not agree with vaccinating our young girls. Our country has become vaccination crazy...

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Good for you in beating it!!! My mom beat Lymphoma!!! I also had to have a laser surgery on my cervix due to pre-cancerous cells. I was so scared because at the time I was only 14. I am actullay going tomorrow to get my yearly pap!! They are so important along with yealy mamaograms. Early detection is key.
I was researching one day and found that lipstick and detergent are linked to breast cancer!! I actually work with a wellness company...

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God Bless You Michelle! I am also a survivor. Congratulations on your baby!

I am so sorry to read your story and of your loss. But I am also thrilled that you have a wonderful husband who stood by you through the entire procedure. I am a 4x gestational carrier and we know full well the heartache you and others experience as you turn to us to help you achieve what seemed like an ordinary goal. My prayers are with you and your husband as you get ready to meet your new little one.

Blessings
Cori

I just got a positive pap smear and the doc said it was severe......I am lucky enough to have a child and husband already. But i am scared to my witts.....

You are very brave, thank you for sharing your inspiring story! Best of luck to you and your husband, and congrats on the baby!

Thank you for sharing. I pray that lots of women will read this and share it with their daughters, nieces, cousins, aunties - any female relative.

God bless you.

Michelle your strength and courage is outstanding. You are on your own mission for your family but you are also on a mission for God to reach other people in similar situations. Keep marching on to the beat of a different drum.

Any cancer is a devastating thing and we can overcome! Please keep us posted on the bundle of joy and you will rise above all things!

Hello,

First, Congratulations on your upcomeing joy!!!! My name is Tish Evans. At the age of 24 I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. My treatments left me infertile, but thankfully I had children early in my marriage. My husband and I wanted more children, but we feel blest by the angel we have.

Your story is tremendous and hopeful. I love your postitive outlook and I pray you continue to live in the wonderful world of remission.

Many Blessings...

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Congratulations Michelle!!! What a story! Wow. I admire your courage and telling your story!

My older sister lost her battle with cervical cancer at the age of 35. Although it's been 15 years since she passed, the trauma of what she went through still sticks with me. She fought a very hard battle.

I am so happy and excited to hear your exciting news and hear the determination in your story to make your dreams come true! God Bless you!

Linda

Hi Michelle, I was reading your post about your cervical cancer. I was wondering did you have any symptoms you were aware of? I am 46 years old, 5' 6'' 110 lbs, pretty healthy and I went to my gynecologist in June 2009, after 25 years of normal paps mine came back "abnormal" with a HPV high risk diagnosis, I am wondering if it was because I had a polyp in my cervix,I go back for a follow up in Dec, 6 months checkup,wondering if I should go sooner...

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Michelle, my hats off to you for doing the necessary research and having the foresight to freeze 7 embryos. Medical science is amazing! You are fortunate that your doctor did the digene HPV test. We all have to become our own health managers. I suffered for 6 years with lower back pain.I sought out the help of orthopedic surgeons, chiropractors, and physical therapists. I had MRI's and corticosteroid shots, and the pain persisted...

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I went through a few years where I had abnormal paps and then happened to go in for an exam while they were doing a study involving HPV and was tested for HPV...

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