A few months ago, I told you all the cervical cancer scare I had - the diagnosis while HLF and I were starting to try for a baby, the LEEP surgery to remove pre-cancerous cervical cells on my birthday, and the overarching lesson that women (hell, everybody) should be their own biggest advocates for their health. I didn't foresee me doing any other posts in regards to the issue, but I learned some new lessons after my recent follow-ups that I feel are just as important to share. Last week, I visited my surgeon to have my 4 month follow-up colposcopy. It was time to take a look at my cervix to assess for any additional cellular change, and to tell you the truth, I was hella nervous. A colposcopy is like a televised pap smear - after getting nice and comfy in the stirrups (yeah, right), I was able to watch the entire procedure via my doctor's laptop. After swabbing the cervical area with a special acidic solution, we waited with bated breath to see if any areas began to turn white. White areas denoted cellular change leading to cervical cancer, and the butterflies in my tummy started doing the Wobble and the Dutty Wine while I waited...
"Well, the area looks great! There's no further disease. You're all clear!" My doctor's voice cut through my worried, frazzled thoughts, and that's when I realized something - it was over. The precancerous cells were gone, my cervix was the healthy, pink colour it should have always been, and I could move on! Life had felt like it was in this perpetual standstill ever since this health issue arose, and it finally felt like the obstacle had been overcome. After asking question upon question about next steps, the surgeon gave me the green light to jump back into the baby-makin' saddle if I so chose - but I was just happy to have the option. I spent a lot of time thinking about becoming a parent, discussing it with HLF, and moving from buying into the idea to being insanely excited about it. It was in that moment that this roadblock made us pump the breaks - so knowing now that I was back on cruise control with the ability to choose my direction felt so refreshing. It turns out that freedom was a bit premature.
The day after my surgical follow-up, I saw my OB/GYN who administers the other part of my treatment. Due to the fact that I progressed so quickly from healthy to a nearly full-blown cervical cancer diagnosis (a 1 year span), my surgeon also prescribed a 3-course round of shots of Cervarix - a vaccine that protects against HPV, the virus most commonly known to cause cervical cancer, and also gives an added boost to one's immune system, helping the body to fight off any other kinds of cervical cell changes. The surgeon prescribed a shot every other month, so September marked my 2nd shot administration. I'm not sure why I didn't do this when I received the 1st shot, but I took the informational leaflet out of the box and read it. I noticed two things that worried me - one being the strange 0,1,6 month administration schedule it referenced, and two being the fact that you could not be pregnant while receiving this treatment - with a wait period of 2 months after the last shot to even start attempting to conceive. My heart seemed to know that it was time to start its descent, and by the time my doctor returned to his office, it was somewhere puddled around my feet.
I clarified with my doctor that the 0,1,6 month schedule meant that the 2nd shot should have been 1 month after the first, and the last shot would be 6 months after the first. My doc proceeded with administering my 2nd shot that day, but instead of scheduling the next for November, as I had originally thought, the last shot was scheduled for January. Add 2 months, and I realized that there would be no more baby talk until the snows that haven't even started falling yet began to melt. I couldn't help but feel that another boulder had been dropped in my path.
The ultimate thing is that I was healthy, and my surgery had been successful. I had to remind myself that my follow-up the day before could have ended much less favourably, and I was grateful. I had to tell myself that I this obstacle was a "not yet", not a "not ever" situation when it came to creating a mini-Bee or mini-HLF. Back in the spring when this all began, I comforted myself by saying that there must have be something else I was meant to do with my time, and I tell myself that again now. Maybe there's a career change coming. Maybe there's a move on the way. Maybe there are other goals that need to be accomplished. Maybe I just have more self-work to do. Whatever it is, my focus now has drifted away from babies and moved back to Bee.
On another note, I learned to continue to be my own biggest advocate, and to ask every question, no matter how stupid they seem. I felt a bit of frustration with my surgeon for not realizing the realities of what I could/could not do during treatment, and even more so at him not advising the proper treatment course in the first place. However, I realized that doctors are humans too, prone to mistake though they have a much smaller accepted margin of error than you or I. This also reminded me that I am the one in charge of my health. Had I read the leaflet in July at my 1st administration, I would have known then what I know now. I asked all the right questions, but my intuition still told me to dig a bit deeper and learn about my situation on my own. Please take this lesson with you as you wrap up reading this post. No one can control your health like you can. Be your own best advocate. Ask all of the questions. Make it your mission to educate yourself. The resources are available, so use them! It can be the difference between life and death - or optimism and disappointment. Go forth and be healthy and happy!
If you made it all the way down to the end of this post - thank you! I just read it back and realized, "damn - this was a long one!" At any rate, there's my follow-up, and my commitment to turning my disappointment into a way to practice patience and to focus on other goals for a while. Everything happens for a reason, right? Have you ever struggled with patience? How do you get through?
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