Pappenstance's Journey with Squamous Cell Carcinoma, Cervical Cancer

Patient: Cervical Cancer > Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Patient Info: Finished active treatment less than 5 years ago, Diagnosed: almost 5 years ago, Female, Age: 35, Stage IIB

  1. 1
    over 4 years ago
    Pappenstance's Avatar

    Diagnosed

    Oh No

    Diagnosed by OB/Gyn after a hemorrhaging incident that the E-R doctor dismissed as hormone-related. Pap smears from previous years had all been normal.

    0 Comments
  2. 2
    over 4 years ago
    Pappenstance's Avatar

    Health insurance issue

    Oh No

    Due to lymph node involvement, my doctors agreed that Intensely Modulated Radiation Therapy was the way to go, so they'd be able to also target my para-aortic lymph node in my abdomen but not put my other abdominal organs in danger. Blue Shield has an across-the-board refusal to cover IMRT for gynecological cancers; they deem it 'experimental' and say not enough studies have been done to determine if the benefits to the patient outweigh the higher cost. Instead, they would have preferred my doctors perform 3D conformal on my pelvic region first for 5 weeks, then an additional 5 weeks on my abdomen. Luckily, I qualified for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, and ended up having my IMRT covered through that. It would be great if more clinical trials can be done on IMRT versus 3D conformal radiation in cervical cancer. My docs were amazed at the minimal abdominal side effects and said most definitely it was from the IMRT.

    0 Comments
  3. 3
    over 4 years ago
    Pappenstance's Avatar

    Radiation and chemotherapy together

    Radiation

    5 weeks of daily radiation, in conjunction with once-weekly chemotherapy (Cisplatin). Had Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), which minimized abdominal side effects (I had para-aortic and iliac lymph node involvement). Didn't work at all during treatment, didn't think I would have taken care of myself if I was also working. The last 2 weeks of treatment were rough - I didn't want to eat much, I was exhausted, and I had pretty significant "gastrointestinal distress." Radiation itself is quick and painless, and the techs were so nice!

    Painless Experience: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
    0 Comments
  4. 4
    over 4 years ago
    Pappenstance's Avatar

    Chemotherapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    I had once-weekly Cisplatin for 5 weeks during external radiation. My nurses were AMAZING but the process itself took about 7 hours. It usually took about 3 days for the side effects to kick in, but if I stayed up on my anti-nausea meds I seemed to do ok. I didn't lose my hair, just got progressively tired as the weeks went on.

    Easy to Do: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
    0 Comments
  5. 5
    over 4 years ago
    Pappenstance's Avatar

    PICC Line

    Procedure or Surgery

    My veins would freak out after about 3 hours of infusion during chemo, so the nurses pushed for a Picc line (peripherally inserted central catheter). It was an outpatient procedure - a tiny tube was inserted into a vein in my upper arm, then snaked down into my chest. Two little valves hung out of my arm and the nurses used those to insert my infusions or to draw blood. It was relatively painless - freaked me out for the first couple of days, but then I got used to it. I couldn't shower normally and my husband had to help wash my hair, but it was just 3 weeks. Removing it was a breeze on my last day of chemo, too.

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
    0 Comments
  6. 6
    about 4 years ago
    Pappenstance's Avatar

    Internal radiation (Brachytherapy)

    Radiation

    I had four rounds total of brachtherapy: one on a Monday evening and another on a Tuesday morning, then the same routine a week later. I stayed overnight in the hospital both times with a few catheters stitched into the site. As for side effects, I had more trouble being uncomfortable at the site of the epidural and with drowsiness from the anesthesia than I did anything else.

    Painless Experience: Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
    0 Comments
  7. 7
    about 4 years ago
    Pappenstance's Avatar

    Finished treatment

    Celebration

    After 30 rounds of radiation, 5 rounds of chemo, and 4 rounds of internal radiation, I was finished with treatment on Sept. 18, 2012. Wahoo!

    0 Comments
  8. 8
    about 4 years ago
    Pappenstance's Avatar

    Chemo brain

    Side Effects

    My side effects are still ongoing, but they were hardest to deal with right after treatment was through. My brain said we just needed to move on, but my body just wasn't ready. That may be the hardest part so far in this journey, relearning the balance between what my overachieving brain says I can do and what my body is capable of doing. For months afterward, I had foggy chemo brain, bladder problems, bowel problems and serious fatigue. My diet often changes, based on how my body reacts. Raw fruits and veggies are out. Caffeine is kept to a minimum (I work for a coffee company!), my favorite brand of sparkling rose gives me the most intense stomach pain. My first time back at spin class just about did me in and I spent the rest of the day in bed. On the plus side, I'm relearning how to really, truly relax. :)

    0 Comments
  9. 9
    about 4 years ago
    Pappenstance's Avatar

    Remission

    Celebration

    The results of my followup PET scan on Dec. 5 were "the best they could be," according to my gyn onc! No sign anywhere of cancer. I now have quarterly pap smears to follow up and keep an eye on it. Hooray!

    1 Comment