Wednesday, April 30, 2008 in cervical cancer, linky love

Pick your fave underwear, donate to cervical cancer research

I meant to write about this way sooner I did. I was all jazzed to and everything, because I thought that someone from HerRoom.com had hunted me down specifically becasue of my illness all last year.

Nope. They just googeled me on twitter. And then sent an automated email. I know this because I got a duplicate a few days later, but from someone else entirely.

While crushing to my ego, it doesn’t dim the fact that they are holding The Undies an “awards” ceremony for your favorite underwear. Each vote will be matched with a donation, up to $100,000. Last year they got 12,000 votes.

So for a small cancer that can actually be prevented, there’s still more work to be done. I know some people are on the fence about Gardasil, and this is one way that you can help bring more funds for more research.

Click away!

Sunday, March 30, 2008 in cervical cancer

One year later, one test for you

It’s taken me all day to write this post. I could have written it earlier this week, I suppose, but some things you want to do right on the day. It’s also a difficult matter to talk about sometimes, so it takes a bit to get in the right headspace. Somewhere in there the day also ran away with me. I wound up going to lie down for a few minutes and got out of bed three hours later. :D Anyway, to my point.

It’s been a year since I had a hysterectomy to remove stage 0 cervical cancer. I’m cured. I am finally better (the need for a nap notwithstanding). You can read all I went through here and here. No pics of my 8 inch scar though, and there’s still a small spot on my belly with no feeling.

So today, to celebrate or mark the anniversary, I had planned to maybe do a series of posts and a whole lot of Twittering to raise awareness. The nap really interfered though, and after I got up I had just enough time to eat, get dressed and walk down to the clubhouse for another meeting.

The important thing you need to remember is that women need to have a pap test every year. Every SINGLE year unless the doctor says you can go longer. Normally, this is after you’ve had three years of perfect scores ;) in a row. I would like to note though, I had no problems until after I hit thirty, then it all went downhill from there.

The average age for diagnosis for women is around 50, but don’t think it can’t happen to you if you are younger than that. Incidence rates for younger age brackets aren’t much lower. Please get checked out. If you’re a guy, make sure to take care of the women in your life.

And don’t just think of younger women – what about your mom? Women should have pap tests up until age SEVENTY. Which was a lot older than I thought. Would you rather be embarrassed or watch a love one suffer or even die? There are still women in a certain age bracket that have never had a pap test done, and it is the single most important screening for such a thing. This is the kind of cancer that if left untreated, you do not have any symptoms until it has progressed quite a bit. Lucky for me, repeated pap tests caught it in time. I had gone three years without a checkup, so that’s how fast it can progress.

Cervical cancer is considered “rare” because of a low incidence rate, but it is mainly due to pap test screening. Since pap tests have become a routine standard the rates have gone down over fifty percent in North America. This is 92% CUREABLE yet 7,000 US, 400 Canadian, & 1,100 UK women will DIE this year. Worldwide, the rates in developing and third world countries are, as you can imagine, not very good.

Every two minutes, a woman dies from cervical cancer. And it is completely unnecessary.

Even here in Canada, and in New Brunswick where women are almost hounded for yearly paps – doctors refuse birth control pill prescriptions unless you have a pap for instance – even here, women die.

Last week, my grandmother’s best friend died. She had cervical cancer. By the time she had issues to see a doctor about, it was too late – it had spread. She’d never had a pap. She was not much older than my own mother.

Also last week, someone forwarded to me a prayer request for a 32 year old woman not far from here who was diagnosed with stage 4 cervical cancer. Her husband is stationed in Afghanistan. The email stated that the reason they found out was because she had a miscarriage. This kind of makes me angry, because for cervical cancer to progress that far, it’s visible to the naked eye. Did this woman have regular pap tests? If not, I feel it’s horrible negligence on someone’s part. She’s too young to be dying, too young to leave her five year old motherless.

So no, you don’t hear of women dying from cervical cancer all the time and far less women are dying from it than used to. But this is one of the few cancers than can be beaten. Anything less is unconscionable.

One thing my gyno’s receptionist said stuck with me: too many women put off a checkup until it’s too late. We’re too busy taking care of others to take care of ourselves. Well guess what? It’s hard to run your household and tend to other’s needs when you are lying in a hospital bed or on the couch and can’t move, let alone stay awake. Even harder when you’re dead.

If it has been more than a year since your last checkup, do me a favor. Tomorrow morning, instead of checking in my blog or surfing a few sites or even buying a bunch of daffodils to raise money to cure cancer, pick up the phone. Call your doctor and make an appointment. Yeah, it’s a hassle, I know. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your family. Do it for me.

If I can save just one woman – just ONE – then it will have been worth it.

For more information:
http://www.cervicalcancer.org/
US statistics – rates are higher for African American women. :(
cervical cancer screening
pap tests
Cervical cancer charity – Jo’s trust

And although I think the ribbon campaigns are overdone, the colors for cervical cancer awareness are teal and white. There’s a bunch of products here. Although if you have to pick between buying a product or paying for a test to see the doctor, see the doctor please. :)

Thursday, May 17, 2007 in cervical cancer, I Forgot To Pick A Category

I am totally going to live

So I went and saw the doctor and ran a bunch of errands. Mr doctor man was in a good mood and seemed quite pleased with himself. He say I am a lucky girl, even if I forgot to bring my knitted uterus. (Funnily enough, it’s in Ron’s bag. I know that sounds really strange.)

He explained the results over and above the whole “we got it all” part. Turns out there was residual bad icky cells and some other stuff going on, including atypical cells (which I do understand as being the whole start of things) in some area and a few notes about other areas that had potential issues. Basically, from what I gather, even if they had got it all the first time, I would have contunued to have problems. At least that makes me feel better abut it.

He’s unintentionally funny though. He’s from the middle east or India or somewhere around there I’m guessing, so not only is he hard to understand, sometimes he doesn’t get my jokes. Or even when I’m serious. To recap my understanding, I asked him, “So basically you’re saying that all my bits were going downhill anyway?”

He said, “No, they not go down hill, we throw them out.”

And then I went and bought news shoes.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 in all about me, cervical cancer

Dear brain; I miss you. Please come back.

Somewhere in all this recovery process, my brain took a nose dive. Between the drugs and the pain and the usual ADD-induced fuzzy stupor that is exemplified with pharmaceuticals, it’s been… shall we say… interesting.

Ron tries not to giggle too loudly when I forget a word in the middle of what I was talking about, forget what I was talking about and repeat myself. Repeatedly. Also, I have begun asking him questions about events and conversations from two weeks ago that I have no recollection of having.

The girls have been pretty patient as well, stating their correct name when I call them someone else. Sarah and Meaghan have been polite and gentle when they see me milling around the kitchen or dining room, confused about why I’m there and wondering what I’m doing. “You just go lie down now, Mommy,” as they lead me back to the couch. And I have every intention of answering emails or performing specific computer-related tasks, but as soon as my butt hits this chair, half my brain seems to vanish. Even with a list next to me.

But, dear readers, I shall share with you the lowest of the low. That time at which I had sunk to a level that was quite remarkably bad. It was back when the necessity of a trip to the bathroom filled me with dread. Since I was sitting in there a while (Yes, I have no shame. Thanks for asking.), and since it was quite painful, my mind blissfully wandered to a better place.

A place that involved cleaning.

Because of the pain, my head was a little closer to the floor than usual. Actually, it may have been against the opposite wall in my teeny bathroom, a fact which I had heretofore never been grateful about, but was now. The wall being only a foot away from the toilet meant I had a handy spot on which to rest my head.

It was there that I noticed the baseboards. See, when one is obligated by their body to spend quite a bit of time remaining still, one starts to notice areas of the household that seem to need a through scrub. These areas are not usually noticed in better times. Indeed, these areas are usually not even noticed by *company*. Not even the picky kind.

So there I was, staring at the baseboards, when it occured to me they were dusty. And slightly dirty. How did they get that way, anwyay? The longer I stared the more I though they need a sweep. No, a dust and a wipe down. Oh I know – a scrub. Would that scrub brush we have do the trick? No, the groove there is small… oh, a toothbrush would do it. Yeah. I need to take a toothbrush to the baseboards and give them a decent scrub. And while I’m at it, the linoleum has a spot there by the corner where the embossing has gathered some dingies. I bet a toothbrush would clean that up nice. If I could only get down on the floor… it wouldn’t be so bad because I could be down there a while and really give things a going over…

Wait a second.

I just thought taking a toothbrush to my baseboards was a good idea. Clearly, I need to get on with recovering as fast as possible.

Friday status report

Learned an important lesson this week: when I am that cranky, it’s time to TAKE MEDS. Duh. The past couple of day have seen marked improvement in both pain (and the management thereof), physical ability and agility, and brain function. Wheeee.

Ron will think there’s a new gal to greet him tonight, assuming he makes good time through ALL THE SNOW.

Yes, it’s April. Yes, it’s snowing. Yes, I live in Canada. Although I am curious as to why it always snows or storms the day Ron has to come home. It’s the wet sploshy kind that leaves slush all over the road. I can hear it hitting the metal roof on the bay window here in the dining room.

But back to me. :) My belly feels weird, numb and tingly. Not as numb as before, but if you touch the skin it almost hurts. I’m told this is normal. Also, I am dressing-free. The nurses are weird people, because every single one who looked said my incision looked great and was healing wonderfully. Well, I finally had a look and it’s pretty ugly. I bet my wonderful husband will say it’s a beautiful battle scar, just like all them stretch marks, some of which made a reappearance.

I am on the mend though, so I suppose it’s a small price to pay.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 in cervical cancer, crafty things, pictures included

art for healing

So I was all cranky this morning and set out to make some art to keep my hands and brain busy. I made ATCs – Artist Trading Cards, and I made a *huge* stack of blanks from cardstock.

handcut ATC blanks
I used a rotary cutter to cut these and now have a numb finger from pressing on it.
(Note to self: get new rotary cutter and change blade on this one.)

I did have to stand up to cut, and I spent an hour at it, plus I sat in a hard chair for a while. Emma had a great time helping me.

Emma sorts ATC blanks for me

Sure, it was tiring, sure I’m still a bit cranky and sore, plus I’m shufling around hunched over today, but at least my brain got to stretch a bit and while ding all that I could forget about things for a while. See? I was at least a lil’ bit productive.

This morning's ATC creations

Also, I have a love of paint chip cards and just discovered that if you cut them in half, they are just about the right size.

Paint chip cards

Yes, I’ll have a trade soon.