If you have arrived on this forum through searches for cervical cancer, my hope is that this writing is of help to you.
Firstly, I am simply a person who was diagnosed with cervical cancer, treated and is doing well. The writing that you will read in this series is regarding my experiences and information that I garnered along the way. There are many types of cancer and many different treatments and outcomes, even for the same type of cancer. When reading, please understand that your best source for treatment plans or prognosis is with your medical team. Just as everyone has different experiences when travelling, your experiences may differ.
Secondly, these posts were first made in 2015. Due to an unfortunate disclosure in a large...
One of the important things that I found that I had to learn was how to share information about what my body was experiencing or had experienced.
Some of it was during treatment. It was important to take notes for symptoms. I learned how to share that information, and in turn, get feedback on what it is called, or what terms might help the person listening understand. It had to happen quickly and efficiently, so we could move on to what the appointment was about. An example of a tool used to help me learn was the Bristol Stool chart.
Post treatment, it was important to be able to be clear that I had received x external radiation, x chemo , and x internal, and confirm they understood what brachytherapy was. (A GP is likely too...
It has been a while since I have placed any updates online or on Facebook re this journey. Whenever I have thought to do so, I am aware that I don't know where to begin or what to say, or even, why I feel that I should write something.
There is nothing momentous.
I have no recurrence of my cancer
Yet, my life has been impacted.
There are consequences of cancer and cancer treatments.
Some of it is just anxiety. "s**t, that's not normal." Time to get into the doctor....or...the doctor being the one to say "that's not normal" and "we need to do more tests"
Some of it is real-life impact. Radiation does things to your body. Not nice things. Brachtherapy and pelvic radiation have significant impact.
The last few months have...
For the last couple of years, I had noticed a sign on a local wellness centre regarding Pelvic Physiotherapy.
Have you heard of it? Since I went, I have heard of a few young women that I know who had it post baby delivery. Swear by it.
I have issues with both bladder and bowel incontinence as I previously shared in these posts. They are a result partially of the cancer treatments but not fully -- diabetes, diet, and inactivity all play a part.
I went in unsure what to expect.
Dr. Google states that "Pelvic floor physical therapists have specific, high-level training to assess the muscles, nerves and connective tissues that make up the pelvic floor, and we do this by performing an internal exam of the vagina and/or the rectum...
I awoke to a snow storm and instructions to stay off the roads.
Phoned in, but, they were proceeding, no cancellations.
In fact, an hour before the appointment, they asked if I could come in early -- guess others cancelled.
The appointment was in a newer part of the hospital, so well setup, and very empty.
Here is a link to a cystoscopy: Cystoscopy.
The staff were good. They were focused on catching up on Christmas plans, and wearing festive gear. (which was just fine)
Quick history check prior to starting. I advised him that I had anxiety due to previous cancer treatments and my friends diagnosis via a cystoscopy of a recurrence of her cancer. He was clinical but solid.
The test was uneventful.
It was interesting as there...
My doctor's session on December 21st was in person. I know, right? Nice in a way, but, remote is also good.
I have an annoying cough. I have had an annoying cough for years, and it gets worse with a cold. The blood pressure pills that i was on make it worse -- intolerable. I had suspended them. (what can i say, I am not compliant) Plus side -- got new meds!
My blood sugars are good -- yeah -- my meds are working. Asked if I would start walking and I said "no". (hah, that is a bit of foreshadowing)
Now for the scan. It was good. Nothing to report. All looks fine.
The referral to the urologist had occurred back in October. It was a coincidence that the appointment was made right after the scan (ok, honestly, i didn't...
Remember my "hey, things must be good as my CT scan review is scheduled out, and my internal was good". We were invited to our first social out since COVID -- a potluck dinner, and was super excited to be going.
On Friday, Dec 16th, I received a call from the hospital clinic that I was booked for a cystoscopy on Friday, December 23rd with the urologist.
I got off the phone, looked up cystoscopy Cystoscopy - Mayo Clinic, and then started to stress.
I phoned my doctor to say "hey what's going on"
The timing of it being right after the CT scan results would have come in was not lost to me.
Holy **** batman. Dang. Deep breathe
With no doctor call back, I did my best to compartmentalize it.
Kept my stress level down, and went old...
My previous GP did not handle doing the pelvic exam after my treatments. She was actually shaken / upset, which was a bit disconcerting. In part, she didn't know what to do. I ended up back at Juravinski for my tests, and I understand there were conversations with my GP. Sadly, my GP left practice. She was a young vibrant woman and is missed in her field. I credit her with the one who saved my life, as she caught my cancer and sent me for more tests back in 2015.
When I was advised it was time for the pelvic exam t our doctors, they offered the Nurse Practictioner or my new GP. I was comfortable with either, but, thought, what the hell, let's go with the NP.
It was the BEST pelvic exam experience that I have ever had.
I hadn't been in our recently renovated hospital and wasn't sure about where the CT Scan was.
In addition, a new admin at our medical clinic was less than, shall I say, proficient at their job.
Multiple calls were received with information, and then updated information, sometimes contraindicating previous information. We had had similar issues with a prescription renewal, so I gave her the benefit of the doubt...but...went into the hospital and verified items such as preparation.
As it turned out the blood work that was required "one week prior" could have been done some day. No biggie, other than i was fretting as my flight back to Canada had been delayed, so i was going to be out a day. Good news, no issue.
Hospital layout is a...
When I called my doctor re the last UTI, I got a call back with a prescription. Within days, though, I also got notice of a CT scan, and a call for an appointment for a pelvic exam.
Blood from any orifice tends to get attention, and particularly if you have a history of cancer.
My CT scan and my appointment would be after my visit to my sister for US Thanksgiving One of the things that is always a toughie is when to share personal information, especially with those who you know will worry, when they don't need more worry, and worrying isn't going to do anything. I guess, in a way, I also did not want our time together to be about my health, or lack thereof. It was hard enough to share how much bladder incontinence that I had...
One of the challenges of COVID closures is the impact to those who have any sort of GI issues.
In the past, most restaurants, and drug stores had public washrooms, that though they might be signed as only for customers, were open for those with health concerns.
I could run into a restaurant and say, "can I please use your washroom" with a pained look, and, if hesitation "I've had cancer treatments" and they quickly showed me where. Tim Horton's, McDonalds, etc.
Staples, Shoppers Drug Mart, most grocery stores and many other locations had washrooms open to the public.
Enter COVID and places closed themselves to public with pickup only. Since reopening, some have not reopened their washrooms.
One of the consequences of radiation...
Well written. I took nothing without running it past my oncologist / pharamacist.
Yes to some things.
"No" to others.
Thankful for a recommendation on the new dentist. I had a thorough examination today, confirmed the pain in my tooth was in the same tooth as the one that was filled this spring by the dentist that bought Dr. P's practice (ouch), and...have appointments to replace it, fill a couple of small fillings, plus all my 40+ year old fillings. Nice timing to get it done before retirement.
Cleaning tomorrow am. Did you know you can't have a cleaning or dental work as you are approaching or in chemo treatments? I'm overdue from the fall
On July 25th, I was to be flying out to Singapore/Shanghai to meet T for two weeks. Instead, I was having a cone biopsy and worried about what next.
So today, I used that cancelled trip to book a flight to Cancun. T and I are headed for a celebration of end of treatments, my retirement, her special birthday and my birthday ..all rolled into one. We will be able to celebrate all of those events, plus more.
Looking forward to some rest & relaxation, some sun, and being spoiled.
Well 2015 didn't go exactly as I had anticipated, but what a series of events.
It started with work craziness and pulling more rabbits out of hats to meet insane deadlines and support new resources overwhelmed by the scope of what they had taken on.
Feb was a welcome break with fun times in Florida with T, H, A & G, including riding a moped!
By the spring and throughout the year, many of my go-to's, the design leads, directors, and managers sought and found other employment and so the series of good-byes that would run through the year started.
The summer came with a surprise as G moved to Newfoundland to work as a full-time paramedic.
The joy and excitement of a trip to Asia with T, and the planning for retirement were changed...
Six weeks of recovery.
The first two weeks as the radiation continued to work its destructive magic. Targeted by the brachytherapy at the tumour, impacting cells around it.
During those weeks, the body was healing as well, and then by week four the healing was well on the way. Energy was increasing. Fatigue lessened. Able to do some shopping to wrap up Christmas lists. Decorating is a gentle task which was smile providing during that time. Do a bit, sit for a while, do a bit more. I am thankful for the ability to afford cleaners, recognizing it is a luxury not everyone recovering can afford. By the time we would be having our early Christmas, the house was ready.
The weeks of healing were moments of recognition that a symptom...
At the Lanc, enjoying the blues of Suzie Vinnick
Suzie's music accompanied me on many days through the journey, travelling to Juravnski as well as Concert Window providing a great distraction. Jocelyn's upbeat attitude was ever present, and Karin was one of my companions and delivered a flavourful spanakopita to our home with her young son.
It was a great way to pass a Saturday night with friends new & old listening to awesome tunes and was perfect for the healing process. (Jim & Karin enjoyed it so much that you can see the stack of CD's in front of Karin)
(Only downside was a couple of noisy tables. I'm out of the habit of listening to an artist in a bar environment)
I try to do something every day to extend my strength and feel like I accomplished something.
Today I went to the awesome Hobby and Toy shop to get the little kids gifts from their grandpa and our family.
I thought that I would stop at ET cetera, a lovely little Shop on the way home. I hit my wall there and must have been obvious as the woman commented and offered me a bottle of water.
I love independent stores.
Got rested up, and took dad out for a late lunch so he could do his banking and I could fill in re presents.
Tomorrow will be a super quiet day.
Each week I can see improvements as my body returns to normal.
The "up all night with GI issues" are less frequent as is fecal incontinence. I was asked if I knew the triggers. I am fairly sure citrus and stress both are. I am not introducing nuts yet.
I can stand or walk longer without exhaustion. I even made some applesauce for the freezer this week
Naps are still part of the daily routine. I fall asleep watching Netflix and wake up and have to determine which episode I was on when I fell asleep.
I have internal aches and pains as I heal.
I am aware some are curious when will I know. To be clear, I don't completely know. I will see my oncologist mid- December. I believe that I will have an MRI before.
I am aware that just...
Yesterday I decided to head to the mall. I did one lap of it with a bit of shopping accomplished and a short sit down at the one store. I had a sense of accomplishment with a few gifts purchased for Christmas.
After resting for a few minutes , I decided to go to homesense.if anyone hears of the person who looked like they were asleep in the side aisle sitting on one of the chairs with their head on the shopping cart handle, well, I swear I wasn't sleeping, only resting my eyes. (hah - right T, D)
The good news is that the fatigue is less and I felt well enough for the mall.
In addition, GI issues are improving. Though no where near normal, I am more comfortable which I am thankful for. Even though last night was rough, it was like...