The “C” Word

I’m 9 years old, and it’s Thanksgiving.  Everyone isn’t excitedly visiting and wanting to be the first to the turkey.  In fact, we’re all pretty quiet.  The life of the party is missing.

My mama.

She’s in the hospital because she had surgery to remove her cervical cancer.  I’m miserable, and devastated. The plates are fixed, as my sister-in-law cooked dinner.  I take mine downstairs, and can’t begin to tell you how it was because I never even tried it.  I leave my plate in the floor of the den and go upstairs.

I cry. A lot.

People keep telling me it’s the “good” kind of cancer.  I don’t care.  They keep telling me she’ll be home in a few days.  It’s not consoling me.  I just want my mama back.

I get checkups regularly, as I’ve always expected my annual to come back abnormal.  Last year my best friend’s did, and she’s got her 1 year check up this Thursday.  However, cancer doesn’t put itself on the books.  It’s pretty inconvenient, and it’s kind of a big jerk about the whole intrusive thing.

Today, I got my “maybe” call.

Sitting at work, I nearly ignored them altogether. “Yes, I know I need to schedule my…oh wait.  I already did that.”

“Hello?”
“Brandi?”
“Yes…”
“We received the results from your pap smear.  They came back abnormal and you tested positive for HPV.”
“I’m sorry; what?”
“The doctor wants to schedule a biopsy. When would be good for you to come?” Like she was asking what time I want my hair cut.
“Uh…I guess as soon as possible?”
“Ok, I’ve got a Monday at 3:30.”
“That will work.”
“See you then! Have a great day!”

My skin turned icy and I completely forgot what I was doing.  I stood up, went to our front office and sat with our receptionist (who, herself, is going through treatments for bladder cancer).  She hugged me, and told me she was giving up her day off (scheduled for Monday.  I’d completely forgotten.) so I could go to my biopsy.

Then I called mama.  Then I called my LEO.

What I wanted to do was call the doctor’s office back and let them know this wouldn’t work for me.

“You see, I don’t have time for all of this.  I have my POPS test on the 17th.  You know, that test thing I’ve been striving to get for, like,  2 years? Yeah. Uh- my time has finally come and you’re just going to have to postpone this until it’s more convenient.”

I didn’t…but I wanted to.  Finally, my LEO and mom showed up at the office.  We shut my door and talked about it all.  I was still left with a few (a lot of) questions, because I had honestly not heard most of what the little girl had said cheerfully on the phone. I texted my OBGYN (’round here, y’all, we do things like that) and asked if he could call me when he got a chance.  My phone rang within minutes of my text, and he was on his way to lunch.

Is that not precious?  You don’t find that kind of treatment just anywhere.

If you’ve Googled HPV in the last few seconds, you’ll undoubtedly have come across another acronym.  “STD.”

That’s all my LEO heard, too.  We were both pretty confused.

When the doctor called, this was one of the first things I addressed with him.  He assured me HPV is a virus, kind of like the flu, that can come and go. He said everyone thinks of it as an STD like HIV or whatever, but that’s not really accurate.   Additionally, you can get a strain that’s goes back tens of thousands of years.  He said the kind of test that came back was the “it looks a little funky, let’s take a better look at it” kind, and he will be surprised if it goes any further than “let’s watch it for a couple of months and do more paps.”  He used the term “ASC-US”, which the CDC says stands for “Atypical Squamous Cells of Undetermined Significance.”

Other things I learned from the CDC? (http://www.cdc.gov/sTd/hpv/pap/default.htm)

  • All women who ever had sex are at risk for HPV and cervical cancer.
  • HPV is so common that most people get it at some time in their lives. But HPV usually causes no symptoms so you can’t tell that you have it.
  • It can take 10 to 15 years (or more) for cells to change from normal to abnormal, and then into cancer.
  • positive HPV test means you do have an HPV type that has been linked to cervical cancer. This does not mean you have cervical cancer now. But it could be a warning.

While we both felt a little better about the whole thing after getting off the phone with my doctor, I told my LEO I didn’t want to talk about it with many people. I did tell a few close girlfriends, however.

Weirdest thing ever? Apparently, I’m late to the party.  EVERY SINGLE ONE of them has already dealt with this at some point, and had some amazingly encouraging advice.

“I’ve had that before!!! Had my cervix scraped and all good now.”

“And he is totally right, HPV is not ‘dirty’. Mine comes and goes and, the worst mine ever was, was a stage 2 cell dysplasia”

“When they did surgery, it apparently took the virus with it.  My last 3 have been abnormal but no virus.”

I’m very thankful for some amazing friends, mama and husband.  I’m even more thankful for a God who wasn’t surprised, at all, by this whole ordeal.

  • I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”John 16:33
  • For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control2 Timothy 1:7
  • For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

So, now what? Well, turkey season starts the 12th and I’m still planning on taking that test the 17th.

Oh! About this circus.  Apparently, biopsy Monday.  Wait a week or two.  Get results.  Create a game plan.

I’ll keep you posted.  Prayers are appreciated.

Sending love your way!

-Brandi

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Gene Fielder
    Apr 07, 2014 @ 00:00:22

    I know the feeling of “Undetermined Significance” it seems that a lot of medical terms end in this. I have one also. I mean an “Undetermined Significance.” To every one else it may seem that way. But to those of us that have it well, we feel as if we are sitting on a time bomb. I know I do. I wish you the best my friend. We that have the “Undetermined Significance” know how “Significant” it really is. Peace out…

    Reply

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