Kristal

This site is about my experience with cervical dysplasia, as well as anything else I might feel like discussing!

Shameless self promotion

Here is one of the articles that came out of my participation with the Underwear Affair, a fun day with an amazing group of ladies.

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It’s not over……

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I was hoping my next post would be all about sisterhood, friendship, and a wonderful Saturday spent running around Calgary raising awareness for below the belt cancers…..well, it’s not,  so here it is…….things aren’t over.  When I had my appointment on May 2nd, and the doctor didn’t see anything, I allowed myself a moment of hope, and that hope grew over the past month.  It’s not that I am saying “don’t hope, it’s pointless”, it’s more that I am a little down that there are still abnormal cells present, and my fight is not over.  Obviously everyone wants to get better, and I know I am very lucky that everything has been caught so early, but right now that’s not helping. Everything is really low grade, and I am told to be positive, since the doctor isn’t concerned.  I’m hoping my body can fight this, and I’m not going to stop my current trend of exercising and feeling better about myself.  So the blog continues!

Oh and I will get to that post this week about the Underwear Affair, as I really had a great time.


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Unexpected Opportunities

Life can be really random sometimes.  Something you didn’t think was a possibility, or expect could ever happen, suddenly is an option in your life.  I was emailed by a communications coordinator with The Underwear Affair on Monday, and to be honest at first I thought the email might be spam.  I was asked if I would be interested in sharing my story with the media (both before and on the day of the event).  It seems she had read my blog from the link I provided on my profile, loved it, and she felt I had a really inspiring energy and positivity towards my situation.  I don’t take compliments well, it’s not that I don’t believe in myself exactly, but I just find it hard to believe that others might find something worthwhile in what I am doing.

Simply put, I will be available for any media requests, whether it is sharing my personal story, sharing the message of preventative measures finding the pre-cancer early, or promoting The Underwear Affair.  I’ve been told I can talk about anything I want and that I can promote my support group, Wellspring, YACC, and really it’s whatever I am comfortable sharing with the media.  This amazing opportunity coming all because I blog, as I would never have put myself forward as a candidate otherwise.   I never started this blog for fame and glory (but really we all have grand dreams),  it was more a release for me than anything, and a way to connect with others going through the same thing. I participate in Monday Blogs to find people, more than for the self promotion, and it’s probably something I need to get over, a fear of self promotion.  Though I will say that I’m so proud when someone follows me, and really the experience has renewed a love of writing that I lost long ago.  So this media opportunity is really just….amazing.

I’m very curious to see what media outlets might be interested in speaking to me, and I have been told to blog about the experience as much as I want, so expect lots of pictures and stories.  It’s cliche, but if I can convince a woman who has never been for a smear to get her first, or show young women it’s not embarrassing or horrible to have one, than it’ll be worth it.  I’d also like to show that people with pre-cancer, and cancer, are normal people, and that we don’t need to be feared.  We want to live, love and be as happy as anyone without this disease, sometimes it’s just that we might have to put those things on hold for awhile to kick cancer’s ass!

The Lady Bits


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Roller Derby – Season Opener

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I am a huge fan of roller derby, that may come as a surprise to some people.  I think these ladies embody so many qualities that I would love to see in everyone, they are brave, strong, spirited, supportive, and they just know how to have fun.  I’ve only seen exhibition games to this point, so it was great to finally make it to a proper bout.  If you asked me why I enjoy the sport so much, I don’t know that I could pinpoint one part (though a lead jammer breaking through a pack is pretty exciting), but I know I’ve loved it for awhile….actually since that A&E show about derby girls so many years ago.  

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What was even better is that I know a few people on the Cut Throat Car Hops (@CDRA_CarHops), which made the game so much better.  It was fast paced, hard hitting, and just all around a lot of fun, with Jammers leaping over blockades, and hits to satisfy any hockey fan! It’s safe to say that if you haven’t attended a game, you should! The final score was 307-242, with the Car Hops losing to the away team from B.C.

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Confession Time: I’ve always wanted to be a derby girl.  I want to learn how to take hits, skate with speed, and not be so scared of everything.  I know what many of my friends are thinking as they read this, that I am prone to some pretty serious accidents/incidents, and while that is true, it’s also true that you can get hurt at any time in your life.  I need to learn how to take life’s hits, as with this last illness, I’ve become a lot more anxious and afraid overall.  Even though I do move on from these challenges, I need that constant reminder that life hurts, and when it knocks you down…well you just get right back up.  I’m going to try and get out to Lloyd’s a few times, skate around and see how it feels.  I’ve been on roller skates before, and ice skates, so it’s not like I’ve never had any experience.  If things feel good than maybe I will check out the next Fresh Meat Camp, and spend three months in an intense training period.  And having people think of you as a bad ass is kind of cool…..as my bad ass quotient is currently quite low.

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Hell, who knows….maybe one day I will be one of those ladies on the track, with a Piper to serenade my entrance!


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Similarities and Sadness

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Every time I go to the support group I learn something about myself, and today it was that I’m really not so different in how I view the world.  For the past year, I’ve felt very dissociated from who I feel is the real me, a happier, healthier me.  She’s someone who anxiety doesn’t bother, depression rarely touches, and doesn’t have vicious mood swings.  I don’t know how to be her anymore, and maybe I’m wrong that she ever existed.  But no matter what, in my mind, she’s living a better life, and has everything she could ever want.  So it was startling to hear the group facilitator say those exact words, that somewhere her family was existing in another world very happily, and that she wished they could be that family again.  It’s amazing that we all have these exact same thoughts, and not from someone else’s influence.  It’s not something I’ve talked to with anyone I know, as I don’t want people to worry about me, but yet here we support groupees are, all are thinking these sad thoughts.

I do know that this current me, well it is me.  And I am generally happy, even when I’m feeling a bit sad.  I enjoy my friend’s company, exercising, and spending time outdoors in the sunshine….oh, and my new favorite show, Tabletop!  I know this is more about feeling like I am not getting better quick enough, and somehow I am failing, because I tell myself that it is all I am good at lately when I am feeling really low. Really, it’s that I am still mourning a more carefree me, one who hasn’t been touched by pre-cancer, and doesn’t have to worry about anything. It’s not like that can’t be my future in some way, it’s not like I won’t change again to another version of me, but I need to accept a lot of things before that will happen.

If you do see the real me on your travels though, could you ask her to call home?  I worry about her……


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Six Month Follow up

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So the day finally arrived, my six month follow up.  I’ve wanted to get this over with for about a month now, but I was also really afraid of what they might find.  I was pretty nervous, but it was more from association, as I now associate the Foothills Hospital with bad things (this isn’t normal for me and hospitals). It was a busy Friday at the clinic, while I was there three people were prepped for a LEEP, and thinking back six months about my LEEP added to my nervousness.  I guess I haven’t really gone through a standard appointment at the Women’s clinic, so let’s do so while I talk about my appointment.

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You can see my file in the picture, at some point one of the nurses grabs it and takes you back to an office.  I’m fairly used to this process now, and less nervous about what will be said.  My first appointment I was a shaking, crying mess to be honest, especially because they go into detail about what might be found, and what caused the issues.  The nurse went through my whole file, all the biopsies (I’m now at 10 biopsies in 14 months), and had me sign the papers that said in bold detail “COLPOSCOPY WITH POSSIBLE BIOPSIES“, which cleared any uncertainty I had about what might happen.  After that, I finally got to ask the question I’ve been struggling to have answered since the LEEP, was it necessary?  Please don’t get me wrong, I believe it was the right thing to do, but my family doctor wasn’t so sure, and really I’m not sure she’s the best person to give me advice in this area.  I know that things got better for me afterwards, and that I’d rather those cells out than still in me, but many feel the procedure is an abomination. The nurse and I had a good long talk about how if I was 21 they would have allowed me to go longer with abnormal cells, as my body was more likely to clear it, but at 36 years old, you don’t clear this kind of thing as easily.  She also said that had it cleared, there was a high chance that it would come back in the future, and very likely at an advanced stage.  I know the doctors at the clinic have way more experience with dysplasia, cancer, and LEEPs, and I trust their judgement completely.  Hearing what I was already thinking really helped me, and I finally felt like I was getting some answers.  I was also commended on getting Gardasil, as it’s been shown to reduce the number of future visits for people in my situation.  I know there are people who believe it kills, and it’s something terrible, but I personally would love to not see the clinic much over the next 35 years.  As well, if I had a daughter (or son), I’d rather they didn’t have to attend an appointment like this in the future.

I was then taken back to the waiting room, since there was a bit of a backlog with the number of LEEPS that day.

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Colposcopy

There are many people who think that colposcopy means biopsy, and nothing is further from the truth.  A colposcope simply views your vaginal wall and cervix in high definition (the horrors of HDTV be damned), and allows the colposcopist to see any abnormalities.  It’s only if they see something abnormal that they will take a biopsy. As with any pap smear, you have to strip down below the waist and scoot down on the table until you are almost falling off, with your feet in some lovely Tinkerbell patterned fleece covered stirrups (I’m told this is not the norm for most stirrups :p ).  I had to wait for the doctor for some time in that undignified position, so the nurse and I chatted about anxiety, travel, and the lovely Calgary weather.  The anxiety chat came from the fact that you can actually watch what the doctor does during the whole appointment on a TV.  I’ve always felt this was a bad idea, even though I am curious, and I think having a panic attack with a speculum inserted probably isn’t a good idea.  The nurse got tired of waiting for the doctor and went to look for her, the nurse came back quickly and said it would be another 20 min or so, and to have a nap (I asked for my phone, as I wanted to take some pictures for the blog).  I can’t say sitting in that position for 30 min is in any way dignified, but at least they have covered the previously exposed windows (no, I’m really not kidding about that)! I had wondered if they were one way glass, guess I have that answer now too!

Dr. Lam finally made it in, and we got the procedure underway.  It’s become a bit more uncomfortable with the scar tissue, and stenosis, but I honestly can’t complain, the situation could be a lot worse.  She did a pap, and then started the vinegar test, which makes abnormal cells go white, at most it stings a little.  There were no abnormal cells that she could see!  But there are a number of cysts in the area, likely due to my healing cervix, and she did take a biopsy of one.  Everyone has cysts, most just aren’t aware of them, they are usually benign, and generally cause no trouble, but she wanted to biopsy as a precaution.  I also figured correctly, that they would do an endocervical cutterage biopsy (ECC) as they can’t see what’s going on in my uterus during this procedure.  That one is always very uncomfortable, but again I really can’t complain as they are just being cautious.  Lastly, she applied the Monsel paste to stop the bleeding, which she always calls “fluid”.  That always strikes me as odd, but I know doctor’s are used to using words that are somewhat vague.

The appointment ends

The doctor was really pleased with the results overall, and of course I was as well.  It usually takes me a few minutes before I am ok to sit up, as I get a bit dizzy after, and so the nurse discussed the appointment with me while I drank some juice to get my blood sugar back up to normal.  We discussed the weekend while I got dressed, and usually after my appointments, I take it easy and go home to watch Netflix in bed.  Though I have for the past month really been wanting to be around people, which is really odd as I’m a fairly big introvert.  As well, the after effects are never pretty, especially with Monsel paste, but overall it’s just a little cramping.  These appointments can be nervewracking, but they are not to be avoided, same with a pap.  They may be awkward and embarrassing, but I would think it more embarrassing to not go for say 15 years, and then find out you are dealing with a worst case scenario.

It was a long few hours there, but I’ve been home and had a lovely nap.  I will get the biopsy results around the end of the month, but it feels like a huge weight is off my shoulders, and though I’m not ready to totally celebrate until those results are in, this is the best case scenario I could have hoped for…..and as many know, I needed good news this week.  I know I am a very lucky girl (maybe not in dating, or being graceful and not clumsy), and things could be a lot worse, and I really do appreciate my medical team, and every friend who gets me through this challenging time.

Onto November!  And my one year follow up!  And so I can make you all laugh…..the best selfie ever!  And yes, I do take the worst photos ever, not photogenic at all, much more attractive in person.  If anything, I would suspect that Jay Leno is my father…..

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Calgary Expo 2014- Inspirational

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Whether it comes as a surprise or not, I’m a huge science fiction fan.  I was introduced to the genre in my teens and since then, the majority of my reading and tv viewing comes from sci-fi/fantasy.  So instead of my usual one day pass, I ended up spending the whole weekend at the Calgary Expo, because of a good friend’s generosity.  Probably the most amazing part of the Expo was listening to some women who really inspired me or made me feel more normal, and it got me thinking about how the strongest role models seem to come from sci-fi/fantasy or horror.  Now,  from the start, I will agree that both men and women are objectified and misunderstood, but for today I am going to focus more on strong female role models as it’s more relevant to my blog.

Felicia Day

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I don’t know her work very well, but I am aware of her work on The Guild, and as the face of women in geek/gaming culture.   Felicia Day was my first panel on Sunday, and she didn’t disappoint in any way.  She was warm, funny, kind, and  like me, she is a little neurotic (her own words).  You could see that she can become quite anxious and overwhelmed with ideas and requests, to the point of panic, and it’s something that many pass off as annoying, or something that should be easily changed.  She showed the audience that you can function at a high level and be highly successful in any field, even if you suffer from anxiety.  This isn’t the only reason why I consider her a strong role model  in general, but it was her response to the “outcry” about cutting her long hair to a short pixie cut.  I had heard about this while surfing various genre sites that I follow, as people were very upset she had “changed” her outward appearance so much, and that now she somehow didn’t fit into the stereotypical view of women in or interested in science fiction.  It’s obvious that appearance shouldn’t matter compared to ones work, but her response to the haters was both mature and to the point.  She told the crowd that it hurts when you feel you are only valued (or conversely devalued) for your looks, and not what you’ve contributed to the world, as it leaves you feeling superficial, marginalized, and very unappreciated.   Everyone can have their opinion of what you like and don’t like, but to say someone has lost all relevancy and credibility due to something as fleeting as hair?!?!  I got the impression from what she said that she doesn’t listen to these people, but when you are neurotic, thoughts like these bubble up when you are feeling most vulnerable, or when you aren’t trusting yourself.  It really can eat away at you. Neurotic or not, things like this just shouldn’t be uttered.

Sigourney

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The last panel of the weekend was Sigourney Weaver.  She has been a favorite actress of mine for some time, and someone I’ve admired for her convictions, talent, and charity work.  She was probably the most inspiring woman I have ever had the pleasure to hear speak.  Most of the panel dealt with the Alien series, and that’s not a bad thing, as Ripley is also a very interesting role model for women.  It was brought up a few times that they are both a contrast of strong, independent, and fierce women, who also contain a tender, loving, and protective side at the same time.  Women are often portrayed as either fierce and strong, or tender and loving, they are never a mix of emotions or behaviors, and they end up not really realistic.  Really, everyone on this planet is a mix of contrasting elements, but we are made to feel guilty if we exhibit any traits not tied to our gender.   As a woman, if you are strong, ambitious, and independent, you are more often considered a bitch, or you are viewed by others that you can’t be a kind caring person, one who will never find love.  Of course, we don’t have to accept this pigeonhole, but it’s hard to not have it affect you mentally and emotionally over time, and have it break you down slowly over time.

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Overall, this weekend was great.  I was expecting a fun time of looking at the cosplay and perusing all the vendors.  Not only did I get to do all that and spend time with good friends, but I got to be a bit inspired! The whole weekend reminded how much I love science fiction in books and movies, and  how much it has taught me about myself and how I relate to other people. Of course there are more examples of great women actors in the genre, like Kathy Bates, and overall, I find it one of the best areas for anyone to read as it serves to expand ones mind.

If you haven’t experienced The Guild, or any of Sigourney’s body of work, do so, you won’t be disappointed.

P.S- this is a bit of a departure in writing for me, so feedback would be gladly appreciated 🙂