My name is Melissa Hensley and this is my story about being diagnosed with
cancer. I have always been in fairly good health.
In mid-May, 2016, I started having some symptoms I didn’t know, were associated with cervical cancer. I have always had my yearly pap smear with a clean bill of health.
In a woman’s cycle, in between periods, we secrete a clear fluid. Me, I started to secrete more. Didn’t really think much of it. As time passed, I started to use maxi pads more for that than my actual period.
What actually scared me into going to the doctor, one day after having sex with my husband, I passed fresh, bright blood. That is a symptom of cervical cancer and I didn’t know that at the time. It scared the crap out of me. I made an appointment with my then doctor and she did a routine pap. Got the results and nothing. She wasn’t checking for cancer at the time, at least she never told me she was and I didn’t think anything about it. She couldn’t figure it out, so she sent me to an oncologist for a second opinion. This doctor also did a routine pap, got results and nothing. Everything came back good or benign. But, I kept having that same, annoying symptom. So she did another pap, and took a little bit more from my cervix. Most of the time when a doctor does a pap, they take from the walls of the uterus too. She was concentrating on my cervix because I kept having the same symptom plus, she noticed my cervix was different. She said it was actually getting bigger. Still didn’t think anything about it. I just wanted to find out what in the heck was going on. I was getting annoyed about having to undress every, freakin time I saw my doctor. It gets cold in the exam room!
With every new pap smear, and she did about three, she would take a little bit more tissue. You actually felt it and it wasn’t good. At one of my exams, the speculum actually got stuck, and she pulled it and I screamed. OMG! It hurt so bad.
You see cervical cancer is cancer that develops in the cells of the lower portion of the uterus. She probably had an idea of being an oncologist, but the pap smears kept coming back benign all while I kept having the same, annoying symptom. She decided on performing a D & C or a Dilation and curettage. It is when the cervix is dilated and they surgically remove or scrape the uterine lining. This time, she took a big chunk she said. Can you guess what happened next? Benign again. So she said I needed to have a hysterectomy.
My husband and I have a 15-year-old son and we never planned on having any more kids but when she told me I needed this surgery, I became so emotional, I cried. I could never have another baby again. Ever! That was it for me. My son would forever be an only child. Surgery day came and she removed, of course, my cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes and three lymph nodes. I wasn’t too worried about the spots that I had on my lungs, although I’m sure the doctor already knew what they were. She came in and asked how I was. Okay, I said. I was sitting there not expecting the worst because honestly, things like this never happened to me. She said it came back cancer. I was sitting there, looking through her, thinking, she just said I had cancer!
As I sat there in shock, she right away started telling me about the plan of action she had for me, I began to cry. I couldn’t believe it. I was in shock. She told me she wanted me to do six weeks of chemotherapy and external radiation. She left us in the room and my husband and I cried like babies. I remember saying to myself, okay it is what it is and I’m gonna do what I have to. I am not gonna die of cancer and I will not be a statistic.
At this point, I was considered stage 2b. Treatment was not fun. Driving every day, Monday through Friday for external radiation, which is a lot like an x-ray. I laid on the table, with my pants to my knees. The machine would go around four times. The first was the strongest and as it went by, the radiation got weaker. You could feel the heat coming from the machine. Most of the time, radiation can leave burns but I was lucky. I didn’t have any.
I did that for six weeks while doing chemo once a week. As time passed, the weakness creped in. I have never felt that way before. I literally was out of breath just getting out of bed. While showering, I had to lean up against the wall because I could barely stand. I use to stand at the sink and comb my hair, but during treatment, I had to sit on my bed and try to comb my hair. I could hardly do it.
These were all simple, everyday things we do but don’t think about and I was having a hard time doing them all. The weakness felt like having the flu times 100! It scared the shit out of me. I got through this round and did a couple of internal radiation treatments.