I’ve mentioned previously that I would be participating in something called “The Underwear Affair” (June 7, 2014), which is an event to raise awareness and money for cancers that happen below the belt. I’m not normally one to participate in a charity that is so huge, but I felt that there is a real lack of awareness for these cancers, and that lack of awareness needs to change. I can’t tell you how many people I speak to who avoid seeing their doctor when they have bowel issues, or think pap smears are embarrassing and useless and won’t go. I can’t imagine thinking this way as a pap smear saved my life.
I went for a routine pap smear in January 2013. It something I do regularly, and didn’t think about it at all. That was until I got a phone call from my doctor’s office less than a week later, telling me there was abnormal results, and that I needed to see a clinic. I again passed it off as nothing to concern myself about, abnormal results are fairly common, but when the clinic called a few hours after my doctor’s office…..I really began to panic. I was told I needed to see them in about three weeks, as my results weren’t cancer, but they weren’t to be taken lightly either as they were abnormal glandular cells (AGUS). Those weeks leading up to my first appointment were horrible. I was so scared, and alone, cried all the time, but it was nothing compared to the weeks after the appointment. I won’t go into the deep depression I suffered for over a year, or the anxiety that was trying to drag me down, safe to say I was in a very dark and lonely place. At that first appointment, they found a cancerous lesion, and took three biopsies. Those were dark days waiting for my results, I can’t even really explain how messed up I was during that time. I didn’t know if I would need chemo, and because of chemo put my life on hold, have all my reproductive organs taken out…basically I knew nothing and was scared about the future. The results came back pre-cancerous stage one, and my colposcopist took a watch and wait approach. This meant leaving the cells inside of me to see what they would do. They got worse, very rapidly progressing to stage two, and by my next set of biopsies in Septebmer 2013 the decision was made to remove part of my cervix. That happened in November 2013, by way of a LEEP procedure. I will go for my first follow up in May, to see what’s happened since the LEEP. Since January, I have felt like things are really improving, both physically and mentally for me, so I am very hopeful of the results from my follow up.
Why I am participating
I am participating in the Underwear Affair because I want to change the perceptions that people have about cancer and pre-cancer’s that are below the belt, so anal, cervical, ovarian, prostate, just to name a few. There is a lot of stigma attached to these cancers, as they happen in “awkward” areas, and there shouldn’t be any reason to be offended by them. I would like to see people stop questioning a cervical cancer patient’s sexual history, and stop slandering these women, as you can get HPV from just one sexual encounter. I want my friend who has just had surgery for anal cancer not to feel embarrassed when speaking about his condition, when he has no reason to be embarrassed. This shame and stigma really affects our mental health and overall well-being. Overall, I want people to stop judging and just listen, as that is the best thing anyone can do. No one can fix our problems, except the medical team, and even their skills are limited.
Thank you for listening, and if you are so inclined, please see below for the link to my donation page. Any donation is greatly appreciated.
Team: The Lady Bits