Category Archives: Cervical Cancer

My father

My father was a complicated man, a character some might say. He was very smart, he held his own in conversations about history, politics, and religion. While working shifts, he attended night school at McMaster University. I remember my mother telling us to be quiet because dad had an essay to write. He was a steel worker, who at one time had dreams of being a teacher, but with a family to support, teacher’s college was out of reach.

He was also a man I really could never really figure out. Take a look at this picture of me as a toddler, note the bottom right hand corner.
Me as a toddler

I had a doll that was black. I don’t know the history behind this picture, and my parents, grandparents have been gone for a number of years, so there is no one to ask. Why do I wonder? When I was in grade ten, I was out with my girlfriend, who attended a different high school than I. She wanted to drop by a school mates house, and he was Black (I use the word ‘Black’ only because it was 1976, and that was how my father thought). I knew I would get in trouble for this visit, and when I got home late, my father started the angry questions. I tried to lie about where I was, but failed. I don’t remember the exact words my father used, but I certainly was never to go over to this boy’s house again.

Fast forward a number of years, and my father’s attitude/thought process changes. My one brother adopts an African-American child, and this child is welcomed into the family. My other brother is encouraged by my father to marry a lovely woman from Guyana (sadly Veronica passed away at the young age of 30).

My father had changed. He was no longer that man in 1976, who thought it was wrong to go to another person’s house, who was of a different race.

The important of Cervical Screening

Veronica having chemotherapy
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. This post is in memory of my sister-in-law, Veronica and all of you fighting a diagnoses of cervical cancer.

Veronica passed away July 1st, 2012 at the young age of thirty from cervical cancer. She had given it a good fight, radiation, chemotherapy, and more chemotherapy, but it was not to be, the cancer won. Cervical cancer is preventable when caught early (see: Cancer Care Ontario).

If you were born in Canada, I would hope you are aware of the importance of the “Pap test”. It is not painful, may be somewhat embarrassing for some but is necessary to find precancerous cells. A Pap test is preformed in the office of your family physician by your physician. Sadly my sister-in-law was from Guyana where Pap tests are not routinely given. So when Veronica’s cancer was found, it was already too late, the cancer had embedded itself in her cervix, and neither the radiation nor the chemotherapy would change that for her. You can read more about Veronica here: Cancer Sucks and Look Good Feel Better Workshop.

I have regular Pap tests; mine are yearly because I have had abnormal results. The first time these “precancerous cells” were found, my gynaecologist cauterized them right in his office. It was not painful, there was some bleeding afterwards (the doctor will give you a sanitary pad), which went away in an hour or so. I was checked again in six months, and six months after that, then the Pap tests became yearly.

Cervical Screening can save lives, encourage your daughters, friends and remember to have one for yourself. January is Cervical Cancer Awareness month.

Cancer Sucks

It’s has been one year since my SIL (sister-in-law) was diagnosed with cervical cancer. The year has been filled with disappointment, joy, and more disappointment. She has undergone chemotherapy, radiation, more chemotherapy. She has been told the cancer was cured, only to find out from another doctor the cancer had reappeared and spread. More chemotherapy was ordered, with the hope that the tumour would shrink so she could undergo radical surgery. Sadly the tumour only grew, surgery was now out of the question. Another round of chemotherapy was ordered but at the same time, she was now being told that her cancer was terminal and the chemo would only, hopefully extend her life. We go for a second opinion, they say the same thing, they would not change her treatment plan. We find out January 11th whether or not the chemo is slowing the cancer down.

My brother and his wife have a seven-year old daughter. How in God’s name do you tell a seven-year old, that you won’t see her graduate from elementary school, high school, her life? Cancer takes away your inner soul. The poor dear has waves of feeling totally and completely hopeless, depression is constant, crying and screaming break into the day far too often. My SIL is thirty-one years old, she has not experienced life to it’s fullest.

My SIL has asked me to take care of my brother and their daughter when she is no longer here. With no hesitation I say yes. She asks how will her daughter remember her. I tell her, she will be an angel, always watching over her daughter. I tell her Leah will always have her memories and no one can take those away from her. Cancer Sucks, plain and simple.

Update:

Yesterday, we received the results of my SIL’s latest CAT scan and it was neither positive nor negative. The tum our has not gotten larger, there some new suspect cells that the doctor is not sure of, and it appears it is no longer pressing on her bladder. The middle of the tumor may be dying but again the doctor is not sure. He says we will have to wait until her next CAT scan in a month to figure out whether or not the latest chemo drug is working. I think the good news about all of this is that my SIL took it as a positive sign which changed her attitude to a more optimistic one. One of the side affects of this chemo drug is she is now anemic, and will have to have a blood transfusion next week.