Tuesday, April 3, 2012

About My Lady Business...

A couple of weeks ago I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Now if you're a woman and you're going to get bad news, Stage 1 cervical cancer is about the the best bad news you can get. Any diagnosis utilizing the "C" word sounds pretty scary, feels pretty scary, but not all cancers are created equal and this happens to be a very slow growing and treatable form. If all goes well, I'll be healed in a couple of months and I'll get back to my regular posts of squeezeboxes, food, music, dance, and cats.

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,



InsatiableGypsy said...

Glad to hear it is a treatable less invasive cancer!! I'm currently staying with my mother while she gets ready for chemo. She was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast cancer. They surgically removed the tumor & infected lymph nodes, but now she has to undergo extensive chemo treatment the next 8wks, then another type of treatment for 12wks, then radiation. It will be ugly.
At least 50 percent of sexually active people will get HPV at some time in their lives, a lot of women are diagnosed with HPV, before the vaccine that came out. In some cases it can turn to cancer, in others, it will go away on it's own without any drugs. There is no cure. AND the vaccine will NOT provide protection against all types of HPV that cause cervical cancer, so women will still be at risk for some cervical cancers.
I do not agree with getting the vaccine as NOW they are seeing that it causes serious adverse side effects, life-threatening complications, and there have been SEVERAL deaths, just from getting the vaccine! Imagine your daughter dying from a vaccine that you thought was going to prevent serious outcomes later in life. The vaccine DOES NOT prevent cervical cancer 100%. And cervical cancer is a VERY treatable cancer nowadays.
Here is a quote from an article..."The long-term consequences of Gardasil are not known. The manufacturer admits this and agrees it does not know its effect on young girls’ cancer risk, on their immunity system, on their reproductive system, or its genetic effects. In due course, we will know this, possibly in twenty or thirty years from now when these young girls, the innocent subjects of the Gardasil experiment have become grown women and then report the consequences of their having taken the medication in their childhood on medical advice." Also, there is FDA documentation stating that they knew that HPV is not the actual cause of cervical cancer but that the actual cause is a "persistent HPV infection that may act as a tumor promoter in cancer induction." Another quote.."What we have here is proof that there is scientific evidence that has been published in the past 15 years that states that HPV infection does not bear a direct relationship to the forming of cervical cancer. It also tells us that HPV, if allowed to will be taken care of by our own body’s natural processes. . ."most infections are short-lived and not associated with cervical cancer."
I personally also have HPV & my health care provider also informed me that my body will naturally heal itself. My mother also has HPV even after her hysterectomy...and she has just recently been tested for cervical cancer because of her breast cancer. She was concerned the cancer might spread to her ovaries because breast cancer & ovarian cancer is connected. Keep that in mind with your surgery. She choose to keep her ovaries so she didn't have to experience menopause until later in life. She's 59. Ask your doctor LOTS of questions!
Also, there have been new evidence that the H1N1 vaccine has caused narcolepsy to spike with a 700% chance in children & teenagers. Something else everyone should research before jumping in to get the vaccine.

InsatiableGypsy said...

I wasn't done....I typed too much!! hahhaa

I personally have NEVER had a flu vaccine or H1N1 vaccine. I believe that vaccines need to be studied for many years before being released. Drugs are required to be tested on animals before humans. Then usually there are clinical trials on humans. With the swine flu scare, the H1N1 vaccine was developed in 4 wks. SCARY! Now they are discovering many complications & the birth defect rate just increased. Autism is also at an all time HIGH. 1 in 60.
I'm NOT trying to scare anyone. I am suggesting doing extensive research on something before injecting it into your body! Weigh the pros & cons of receiving it. Let's face it, there is NO miracle vaccine & everyone's body will react to a drug differently. For some, its death, and sometimes depending on the age, it wasn't even their choice. Educate yourself.
I am a supporter of Planned Parenthood!! PLEASE SUPPORT!! They are closing clinics all over the country! It's NOT just for illegals...like the public thinks....it is also for people, like myself, who are self-employed & cannot afford healthcare yet.

Good luck with your surgery! I am confident you will be fine!! I look forward to your posts on the your journey though this. :)) *Insatiable

Anonymous said...

Sarah, I hope everything goes well!! And agreed about SUPPORTING PLANNED PARENTHOOD, especially in this period of the renewed right-wing war against women.

An important note on vaccines: the 1998 study that fueled vaccine/autism fears was an elaborate fraud, with falsified medical histories, perpetrated by Andrew Wakefield while he was on the payroll of a law firm hoping to sue vaccine manufacturers. Britain stripped Wakefield of his medical license in May 2010.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/01/05/autism.vaccines/