I am honored to have been able to be present today for the signing of the bill. I was able to attend the ceremony, meet Governor Holcomb, and even get one of the pens he used to sign the bill into law. It was truly an experience to remember. As he was signing House Bill 1278 into law he used three pens. One pen to sign his name, which he gave to a senator; one pen to sign the time, which he gave to Representative Negele; and a final pen which he signed the date. Going through my mind I was calculating who he might give the final pen to. I was honored when he turned and said the final pen was for the face he would remember with this law and he handed me the final pen.
I haven't shared my story here recently, this is what I shared at the statehouse:
I was first diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2012. I was told that I would need to have a hysterectomy, at the age of only 27! I was not happy with that option so I sought out a doctor who could perform a procedure which removed my cervix and lymph nodes. A panel of oncologists determined that there was no evidence of additional disease and I would not need any further treatment.
In December 2013 I started having, what I now know were, symptoms of a recurrence. In April 2014 a urologist ordered a scan and diagnosed my recurrence. I saw my gynecologic oncologist shortly there after, I thought we'd walk in and hear that it was time for a hysterectomy. He said "oh no it is far too progressed for that." Soon after I went in for surgery and had a port placed as well as a nephrostomy tube to allow my kidney to drain properly during treatment. I went through six rounds of chemotherapy followed by six weeks of chemo/radiation.
In March 2015 I heard the words again, no evidence of disease. This celebration was short lived, in May 2015 I had a regularly scheduled PET scan and we determined that my cancer had returned yet again. Now, I live my life with advanced metastatic cervical cancer.
I have a seven year old at home, I have had cancer more than half of his life. When I was first diagnosed he was afraid he would catch cancer by drinking after me. Now, he knows more about cancer than any of us did at the start of this.
I share my story so that those women who cannot share their story can be heard. I share my story so that it is understood how important a strategic plan is to reduce cervical cancer rates. I am one of the faces behind the numbers in Indiana. I don't want women to think they are alone. I am defeating my incurable cancer every day. Not by getting rid of the cancer, but by living life.
It is through the training I received from Cervivor that I felt confident enough to stand up in front of the two health committees and share my story. It is through the outreach efforts of the American Cancer Society that I was invited to speak and attend the signing ceremony. I share my story for those women who cannot. I shared my story at the statehouse because I think it is important for a strategic plan to be developed to help reduce the rates of cervical cancer mortality and morbidity here in Indiana. I want to help eradicate cervical cancer.
Do you want to help make a difference? Cervivor School 2017 is coming up in June and I hope to see you there!