Earlier this year I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I am 32 years old, never been married and have no children. I have been diligent about getting annual pap smears since I was 18 and had always received “normal” results until February of 2016 when I went in for my standard exam. A few days after my visit the doctor called to tell me that my test results came back as “abnormal.” I decided not to tell any family and only told one friend about this news as I didn’t want to worry anyone over something that could be nothing. Surely I didn’t have cancer. Maybe an infection, but not cancer.
I scheduled an appointment with the gynecologist my doctor had referred me to. The doctor took 4 or 5 biopsies of my cervix. Two weeks later I returned for the results and was given the news “You have cervical cancer and your only option to beat it is a hysterectomy.” I was in complete shock. I’m not sure what I was expecting but it just didn’t make sense that this was my only option. To go from normal results for all of those years to needing a hysterectomy just didn’t calculate. I of course was in tears and devastated. I asked if I could sit alone for a bit in the appointment room to process the news. I sat for about 15 minutes in tears, my mind racing over all the things in the past I should have and could have done differently. I have never been one of those girls that couldn’t wait to have children but I at least wanted the option. I could have gotten the HPV vaccine. I could have been more selective of sexual partners. I had major guilt rushing over me and now I had to tell my parents and the rest of my family who had no clue anything was even going on. And who else would I need to tell? How would I walk around with this diagnosis acting as though nothing was wrong?
I was classified as stage 1B1. This is a very early stage but if left untreated it could spread and grow and put my life in jeopardy. I left the room trying to keep myself together enough to check out and went to my car and called my parents and brother to tell them the news. Within the next few weeks I had an appointment with a gynecological oncologist and after two procedures, including a radical trachelectomy (removal of cervix), and some small scars on my abdomen that remind me of where I’ve been, I am officially cancer free.
My relationship with Cancer Support Community North Texas (CSCNT) began thanks to my brother who was a huge supporter of mine through all of this. He knew of CSCNT through his employer who supports one of CSCNT’s annual fundraisers. He had been asked to come tour the clubhouse and it just so happened that I had just been diagnosed with cancer. We went and toured the clubhouse together in May to find out more about what they offered their members as we weren’t sure what resources we might benefit from individually and as a family. I wasn’t prepared for the emotional rollercoaster of cancer but I am now paying it forward by serving on the CSCNT Young Leadership Board and telling my story to help raise awareness and funding so that CSCNT can help more families like mine who are blind sighted by a cancer diagnosis and need the support of a community that cares.
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