The anxiety is building. Chemo is looming and I am not sleeping very well. I tend to wake up in the middle of the night with thoughts about what is coming; the sickness, the pain, possible infections and other complications. The knowledge is making the wait very difficult But I am ready. I am comfortable with the treatment plan and am at peace with what is coming.
That is until my phone rang today and on the other end was the nurse from my gynecologist's office, she needed to give me the results of my Pap smear I had a few weeks ago. She asked if I had a minute, which I did and she started to talk. As she went on about the test results and how they found precancerous cells and how they had sent them off to have additional testing which also came back "positive" (for what I am not exactly sure, pre-cancer or cancer), my mind started to drift. I thought about why I had gone in for this test. No one had advised me to, my Houston team told me it was not necessary. Still, something had nagged at me to go get this test done and so I did.
My mind went back to the nurse on the other end of the phone. Was she really telling me that just two weeks after getting the "Complete Remission" statement from my Houston team, the Mantle Cell Lymphoma specialists, that I now had precancerous cells in my cervix? When she finished talking I told her simply that she could have my cervix. There was a slight pause and I told her again, "I will donate it, you can just have it." I told her I was turning 50 in a couple months, that I was done having children and I had just finished up 8 months of treatment in Houston and was about to start 4 rounds of the most harsh chemotherapy there is and I was not about to lose this fight for some precancerous cells.
When I finished with the nurse I called my local oncology team to make sure they were up to speed as well as left a message for my MD Anderson team in Houston. My message to Houston was not quite as polite. Houston had poked and prodded, tested and biopsied literally every other part of my body (no joke, they had done everything from scope down my nose, up my backside, in my throat, biopsied my lymph nodes, my thyroid, put radioactive tracer in my body numerous times, bored holes in my bone to check my marrow and filled me 15 times with chemical infusions, as well as given me trial drugs every day for 8 months and yet they had told me they didn't need to do a mammogram or a pelvic. Come to find out I have learned there was only accuracy in one of those statements, I wouldn't need a mammogram as a PET scan would show the same, but a cervical exam (Pap smear) is the only test that will detect cancer in the cervix.
My emotions today have been mostly anger, and I allowed myself that feeling. I have learned that I am now in need of a colposcopy and a cervical biopsy prior to starting chemo.
What is a colposcopy? It's my understanding it is a fancy name for a high tech exam with a biopsy as the end result. Will this push my chemo start date back? I am told that it will not and that the hope is to have the colposcopy and biopsy done in the next couple days before my scheduled chemo. Will my current chemo treat anything else cancerous or precancerous? I am not sure and have not yet been given that answer.
All I know is I have been gearing up, counting down and wrapping my mind around starting chemo. I have cut my hair nearly all the way off with the thought of shaving it this weekend; I like the phrase, "cancer will not take my hair, I will." Now, I am not sure what to do except try to be patient, again. Patience is not my best attribute.
At the end of today however, I realized that yet again, it is all about perspective. This new twist is no one's fault, it just is what it is. I cannot place a blame and I have let go of the anger. I currently have my health as I have no pain and I am not sick. I can walk without my cane. I can work. I can spend time out of the hospital. I have my family and friends to support me and stand by me. I am Blessed beyond words. These are good days and today certainly was not my worst. Life is good and I am done with my latest pity party. I choose to be happy and move forward with a smile. I love my life, even in its newest form.
Ladies - get your Pap smears, they matter, they could save your life.