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September 21, 2009

Cervical Cancer: A Diary - Part 1

I have decided to journal my experience with cervical cancer. This is part 1 - much more to follow.

Sometime in June

My desk phone rings. It’s my gynae’s secretary informing me that Dr Olivier would like to speak to me. He tells me that the 2nd pap smear in 2 months has come back with ‘abnormal cells’ as a result and he would like to request a biopsy to be done in hospital. I agree not thinking this is anything to be afraid of just yet.

A while later I contact him to find out if this has anything to do with cancer and he assures me that this is to ‘rule out’ that possibility.

The appointment is set for six week’s time when I will have a biopsy and a colposcopy procedure done. This will remove any weird growth that has invaded me causing me to bleed intermittently. The day dawns and I go to the hospital. I am not prepared for all the waiting. My appointment was for 8am but I eventually only see the doctor at 10am. He first takes a look at my Pap smear pathology results and tells me in no uncertain terms that this is NOT cancer we are dealing with. I feel great relief. He examines me and informs me that due to the size of the growth, the removal thereof will have to be done in theatre. I get dressed and he makes another appointment for me to come back for the procedure. Great. I am happy that this is going to be taken care of quickly and efficiently. He also tells me that the final results of the biopsy will be ready in 6 weeks time.

Around the end of July, I get another phone call from my gynae’s office. He tells me that they have found cancerous cells in my biopsy test results and that I have to go and see the hospital as soon as possible to go through a number of tests. So from the 31st of July to about 4th of August I spend much of my time at the hospital undergoing various tests from blood through to cystoscopy (where they put a camera up your bladder – extremely uncomfortable!) They take about a litre of blood from me, they poke, prod and photograph my insides. I begin to feel a little like an alien having just landed on planet Earth. All the tests are to discover whether or not the cancer has spread and how far along it is. Throughout all of this I am very calm, numb even. I think I am in shock and not quite sure of how to deal with this. Once all the tests are over I am due to meet with the doctors for them to inform me of the way forward. That day dawns and I am extremely nervous. The doctors see me and once again perform an internal exam. They then say I need a further test called an MRI to determine how big the tumour is. The final test is scheduled for the following week and then I am due to meet with them in 2 weeks time. It feels like a lifetime away. I go for the final MRI test and it’s very trippy – a total out of body experience. You are placed in a tunnel apparatus with headphones on to try to drown out the noise of the machine. This doesn’t work and the constant bang-bang of the machine goes right through you. It’s extremely unpleasant.

I then go home and wait out the two weeks. During this time, I act normally. I go about the business of work, life, caring for my daughter. I see my friends – we have dinner parties, I go shopping. On the surface all is fairly normal. Underneath I am a seething mess of panic. I am praying that the cancer is not at an advanced stage and that the best result I can hope for is that this is operable and that no radiation or chemo is necessary.


  1. My dear friend... I do not know the words or the way... only that I love you.

  2. @Wenchy: That is enough my friend. Love you too.

  3. Bee... you've been in my thoughts and prayers all along, and will continue to be.

  4. You are in my thoughts and I am thinking about you. I see you have found out what it is like. Life continues as normal on the surface but we have been touched deep. Our thoughts can never be the same or as carefree as before. Just be strong and positive and just know you are not by yourself. Lots of love and light to you

  5. I can't even imagine what you're going through, so all I'll say is that I'm saying a prayer for you and hope it all turns out well.