In 2017, I came to Holy Name's Patricia Lynch Cancer Center for a second opinion on how I should have my cervical cancer treated. My gynecologic oncologist, Dr. Sharyn Lewin, listened to my concerns, asked all the right questions, and gave me several options. She took the time to explain exactly what was happening to my body. She also understood that I wanted to leave the door open to having a second child. I was only 29 and had a 5-year-old son.
I chose to have a procedure called a radical trachelectomy instead of a hysterectomy. Dr. Lewin said that because the cancerous tumor wasn't that large and the cancer had not spread, she was able to remove my cervix but leave my uterus in place so I would be able to carry any future children. I did not have to undergo any chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Trachelectomy was an option for me because my cervical cancer was detected early, by an HPV screening that was positive, a Pap smear that discovered pre-cancerous cells, and a LEEP procedure that found the tumor. HPV is responsible for almost all cases of cervical cancer. I had these tests after experiencing some minor symptoms of bloating and two infections in a year.
Now, three years after surgery, and with the support of Holy Name’s Cancer Support Community, I am doing well. I see Dr. Lewin and my gynecologist for follow-up care every six months.
My advice to women of all ages, regardless if you have been with the same partner for many years or with several partners for a shorter period of time, is to make sure you visit your gynecologist or healthcare provider every year for routine Pap smears and HPV tests. Always ask your doctors about any medical test you receive and for what you are being tested. Follow up on your results and get a printed copy for your records.
I know as a busy working mom, it's easy to put others’ health needs before my own. But we women have to take charge of our bodies, pay attention to signs that do not feel right, and get our annual check-ups and screenings. My screenings saved my life.
To read more about Jane and the Patricia Lynch Cancer Center, visit: Jane Martinez at holyname.org/PatientStories