In the meantime, some folks are curious about about my treatment, some people want to know how I'm feeling, others just want to know if I'm available for my gigs. This blog is going to take a little detour for a few months to keep my friends updated and satisfy the curiosity of random strangers.
Here is a letter I sent to friends and family last week:
It's been a rough few weeks here at the Gowan household. After several tests, last week I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I met with a specialist to discuss treatment and it looks like I'll have a cone biopsy this week to fine-tune the diagnosis and then he'll perform a hysterectomy in a couple of months. If all goes as expected, that will be the extent of the treatment - no nasty chemo or radiation. [Yay! I get to keep my long flowing tresses!] Physically I feel fine; emotionally I'm predictably distracted, anxious and having trouble sleeping. (I must say I'm becoming quite fond of naps.)
Despite the scary diagnosis of cancer, I feel incredibly fortunate. I have oodles of support, excellent health care, great health insurance and a flexible job with no financial worries. The diagnosis was made so early because my doctor insisted I return for my annual Pap and she wasted no time in following up with further testing. Dr. Amy is awesome!
I'm pretty well set as far as immediate needs go, thankfully there really isn't much to take care of. By all means send your healing vibes out - I'm a big believer in the power of positive energy! - and I promise to ask if I need anything else.
There are three things I would ask you to do for yourselves and loved ones:
I'm blessed to have private insurance and access to a full compliment of medical services, but for many many years my primary access to affordable health care was through Planned Parenthood. They took good care of me when I was young and poor and I know I have friends who still rely on their programs to stay healthy. Support Planned Parenthood. Send them money. Sign their petitions. Take care of them because they took care of us.
Get your screenings and make sure your friends and family get theirs. Pap, prostate, mammograms, colonoscopies, blood work. If you have health insurance, don't put it off. If you don't have insurance, hospitals and clinics often offer free or affordable screenings at different times of the year and I hope you take advantage of them. My treatment will be soooo much easier because I didn't wait an extra year for my screenings.
If you have kids, make sure they get vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) with the Gardasil vaccine. My cancer was definitely caused by HPV, but my daughter won't get this disease because she was immunized against the virus. I think they are starting to immunize boys as well - ask your pediatrician.
I'm sure we'll be in touch and I'll keep you posted as treatment progresses. You can feel free to share this message with anyone you think might be interested, but I'm very optimistic that there won't really be all that much to report!
Much love to you all,