When I was 27, I went for a routine pap smear. I had no other warning signs that I could possibly have cancer. The only thing that was not routine was that I was 27 and had never had a pap smear. The results came back indicating the need for further investigation.
I was referred to a gynaecologist where I went for a day surgery procedure to try and remove what was hopefully just pre-cancerous cells. The results came back and I was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Shortly after, I had a 10mm diameter tumour removed from my cervix. The process from diagnosis to treatment was extremely fast – from my first pap smear to surgery it was two months.
I had a radical abdominal trachelectomy and the removal of my lymph nodes in my pelvis. In other words most of my cervix was removed via my abdomen in a procedure that had only previously been performed in Australia a couple of times.
Fortunately, Dr Obermair was able to remove the tumour cleanly and the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes. I then proceeded to have pap smears every three months for two years then six-monthly for three years. At my five year mark I moved to 12-monthly pap smears, which nine years later I still have.
For me, it was never about life and death which I know many people face in a diagnosis of cancer. Of course that is what it could have been if I didn’t have that pap smear when I did.
For me, it was more about at 27 years old will I ever be able to have children? I went into my surgery with the optimism of this radical surgery cleanly removing the tumour but of course there were no guarantees. If the tumour could not have been removed without preserving my cervix, the alternative was a full hysterectomy.
There are times when I hear about people’s diagnosis of cancer and I think of how lucky I am that I caught mine early enough that I only had to have surgery and no follow-up treatment. I am just thankful that I can share my life with my two beautiful children.
I am certainly eternally thankful & grateful to Dr Obermair for what he did for me. I truly believe that if it wasn’t for his abilities I would have been presented with no option but a hysterectomy at the age of 27 and not had my children – they are the greatest thing that has happened to me. Of course I remain diligent in regards to my check-ups and I’m vocal to my family and friends about having regular pap smears. Other than that, I really just live my life.