… Because, you know, that’s funny, right?
I know I promised to make with the funny today, but I had a really disturbing dream last night that I had cancer. The 80% chance it’s going to kill you ‘cuz it’s in your brain type of cancer. The dream also involved me trying to seduce Seth Rogan (who also had cancer) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. There were guest appearances by Cancer Survivors (who I’m pretty sure have never actually had cancer) The Fifth Doctor and Martha Jones. Yeah, evidentially my subconscious really liked 50/50 and sees Doctor Who characters as the ultimate authorities on overcoming adversity. So, let’s talk about cancer.
This isn’t something that I tell a lot of people, but I’m a cancer survivor. I was incredibly lucky and we caught it early (basically, Stage 0). I was 20 and bullet proof, so I just kind of rolled through it and didn’t think much about what was going on or the long term implications. I don’t think I even told my ex-husband that it was anything more serious than “an abnormal pap smear”. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let me start at the beginning.
In May of the year I turned 20, I went in for my annual “Women’s Wellness Exam”. The results came back “abnormal”. In June, I went in for a second pap smear and the results were moderate dysplasia. I had a colposcopy in July. The Colposcopy is a particularly awful piece of medicine that involves using a claw-type device to “bite off” pieces of your cervix to biopsy. And it’s done with no anesthesia. It sucked. The colposcopy biopsies (they took three “bites”) all came back with Stage 0 Cervical Cancer. Basically, Stage 0 is as early as you can catch it and have it still be cancer, not just high grade dysplasia. So I had cancer. Between being in the army and it taking several weeks to get the biopsy results, it was the beginning of October before I went in for the LEEP. A LEEP is a Loop Electrical Excision Procedure. They take a small loop of wire, charge it with electricity and use it as a scalpel/cautery tool to slice off the front of your cervix and cut out the cancerous cells. Thankfully, this is done with anesthesia. I had to have a pap done monthly for the first 3 months, then every 90 days until the one year mark, every 6 months for two more years before being officially “cleared” and thankfully, I’ve never had a single recurrence.
But the point is, I was lucky and it was caught early because I was in the habit of going in for regular women’s health exams. Girls, you HAVE to go get pap smears, you HAVE to do at home breast exams. It’s just too serious to ignore or put off. Even if you’re not having intercourse, you need to go have a annual women’s health exam. The consequences are just too dire if you don’t. Cervical cancer is often completely asymptomatic until the advanced stages. It’s no laughing matter, it’s a matter of life and death. I know, no one likes going to the GYN, no one likes having their vagina rotor-rootered. I don’t care, go anyway.