When I was 21 years old I was a single mother raising a toddler and working a full time job to support my daughter and me. After a routine gynecological exam I received a phone call to come into my physicians office to discuss my test results. I was working in a doctors office at the time and I knew the procedure for test results: ok results get a phone call and an all good while not ok results get a phone call to come in to discuss. I sat across the desk from my doctor and he told me I had cervical cancer and that I would need a hysterectomy. My heart sunk and I immediately started to cry. My head immediately went into the worst case sinerio and all I could think about was my daughter and fear I wouldn’t be around to watch her grow. It was a Friday and he told me to go home and discuss this with my family and take the weekend to process the information but, I was to call his office first thing Monday morning to schedule my surgery because it was ‘an urgent matter that needed to be taken care of ASAP’. I was devastated. I just turned 21, I am a single mother I just found out I had cervical cancer and immediately worried for my daughter and her future, my ability to care for her, would I need chemotherapy or radiation, how progressed is the cancer and on top of that now I am loosing the ability to ever have another child. I am loosing my femininity and gaining a scar. So many thoughts went through my mind that weekend as I tried to mentally prepare myself for what life would be like after this. I couldn’t help but think of the extra challenges I would have now even just dating. When do you tell someone you can’t have children, right away or wait until things start to get serious? How could I ask someone to give up their chances of becoming father just for a relationship with me? And lets face it, I am 21 so most men my age don’t already have children and that would be a sacrifice they would have to make in the reality of the situation. My lack of confidence and low self esteem definitely talked me out of dating for many years after my hysterectomy.
Fast forward 15 years, I am sitting in the doctors office. An oncology gynecologist, not the doctor who performed my hysterectomy. She pulled all of my medical records and after reviewing my old test results, including the one that determined I had cervical cancer and she told me that the doctor who did my surgery had misdiagnosed me and I never had cervical cancer to begin with. All of a sudden I was heartbroken all over again. It took so long to accept having a cancer diagnosis and not being able to have more children and now I am finding out that it was unnecessary and I could have went on with life without having that hysterectomy. Fifteen years later and I want to walk into that doctors office and high five him in the face…with a chair! I became so angry at him for robbing me of my womanhood, for making me go through life with all of those unnecessary obstacles and not to mention the humility of it all. I couldn’t count how many times I wrote cervical cancer down as part of my medical history. Now every time I see one of my doctors I have to get them to remove it and re-explain the story of what happened all over again. I went through the last fifteen years thinking more children were just not in the cards, but maybe they were. I will never know now, because fifteen years ago that doctor took a part of me that I can never get back, my potential future son or daughter, my ability to carry life, my womb.
But life goes on. I will spend the next fifteen years the same as I did the last, focusing on my daughter and my family and cherishing the life we have. I will keep every moment of that pregnancy as a precious memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life, and I will wear my stretch marks with pride, for they remind me of the miracle of life. That doctor may have taken away my ability to give life, but he didn’t take away my ability to live it.