Living With and Through Cervical Cancer
There are so many factors to take into consideration once your have been diagnosed with cervical cancer. Various side effects not only from treatment, but also of long and short term effects both physically and mentally. Every patient is different and everyone will have his or her own personal issues and fears about it.
One of the deciding factors will be the stage that the cancer was diagnosed at. If it is caught early on, the physical aspects won’t be as long lasting as a person who got diagnosed at a crucial stage. The various types of treatment will also bring their own problems.
The first step to living through cervical cancer is to become as well researched as possible on the matter. Although it will be your doctor’s responsibility to explain, doing research into the terminology will make it easier in the long term for you. You should also be aware of the risks and effects that will happen so you can start dealing with it as soon as possible.
Having discussions with your doctor is the best place to start. Understanding exactly what will happen, the chances, the effects as well as finding out if he/she knows of any counseling groups that might help you to deal with the psychology aspect. Questions of “why you” and “why now” are normal. Some of the treatments will have an effect on you physical that will change your own self-image of yourself, such as scarring or hair loss. Having a group to help you deal with it might be crucial for your own peace of mind.
In some cases of cervical cancer, a hysterectomy might be the only answer. In severe cases, this might involve the removal of your womb, tissues around your womb, top of your vagina and lymph nodes around the womb. In these cases, infertility is almost completely unavoidable. Most women need help to come to terms with the idea of not being able to give birth and the prospect of not having children. Unfortunately, surgery isn’t the only type of treatment that might have this effect.
Chemotherapy also has harsh effects of infertility. It might also have an effect of heart problems later on and early menopause. Both radiation and chemotherapy have long term risks and problems, which you will need to discuss with your doctor. Other common side effects during treatment include nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation, sleeping problems, fatigue, urinary problems and hair loss.
Doctors might suggest that after treatment, spending some time in a rehabilitation center might be the solution to recovering. Having fears is natural and to learn to accept that will take time. Rehabilitation centers will offer 24-hour support and help with regaining physical function and independence. You body will take a physical blow and having swelling in the limbs, weight loss or gain plus fatigue afterwards is common.
The rehabilitation center will be able to advice on nutritional counseling to help quicken the recovery rate, as well as help with preventing the cancer from coming back. This also includes exercises and lifestyle changes. One of the more important aspects is the counseling, not only for you, but family and friends. They generally build a goals list with the individual to priorities what needs are most important.
A person should never feel alone during the process, as well as afterwards. One of the other ways to also release your fears, anxiety or concerns is to keep a personal journal. One of the biggest fears of a cancer patient is the risk of it returning. This fear gets less in time, which is the good news. You might hear your doctor talk about pelvic exenteration, which is when the cervical cancer comes back in the pelvis. Areas of the pelvis include the womb, cervix, ovaries, bladder and rectum.
Keeping communication channels open is vital between you, your doctor, support team and family/friends. Change is a scary process and not knowing for certain what the outcome is, is even worse. It is a heavy burden and learning to allow people to help you carry it, will help you in the long term.