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Cervical Cancer Survivor
|Emily Wyse, Seattle, Washington|
When Emily Wyse and her husband arrived at her doctor’s office for a follow-up visit on August 1, 2005, what stuck out most to Emily was the box of Kleenex between two chairs in the exam room.
“I basically wanted to turn around and walk out of the room,” Emily recalls. “But, we sat down, waited for a few minutes, and then the doctor came in.”
Her doctor arrived and told them that Emily had cervical cancer. “And I thought, OK, I’m 30 years old, I have two very young children. I actually kind of started laughing.”
Emily couldn’t believe what was happening. She didn’t realize her doctor was even looking for cancer.
“We caught it very early,” Emily says. “That’s a good thing.”
Emily’s doctor told her they would schedule surgery for a radical hysterectomy right away and she would then refer her to gynecologic oncologist Elizabeth Swisher, MD, at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
“I knew something was wrong,” Emily says. “Intuitively, you know your body and you know that something’s not right.”
But Emily had had several tests. Her problems had been going on for months, and nothing had come back abnormal. “It felt like all of a sudden this one thing had come back abnormal and then they brought me in for a biopsy,” Emily says. “I didn’t really understand when they want to do a biopsy chances are they’re looking for cancer.”
Emily brought her father and her husband to her first appointment at SCCA. “I figured my husband would be like me and we would not really get anything that they were talking about. So we brought my dad to write notes and ask the questions that I had written down and wanted to ask.”
At SCCA, Emily and her family met with her team of doctors in a conference room: Dr. Swisher, her gynecological oncologist, a radiation oncologist, the residents, and her nurse. “It’s a bit overwhelming at first, but comforting at the same time,” she says. “They had all the paper work, the diagrams, all the information that they needed [to talk about a treatment plan]. They’re really good about answering the questions that you have.”
After several more tests, it was finally determined that Emily had Stage 1B2 cervical cancer.
Emily’s treatment started with chemotherapy and radiation followed by surgery.
“Chemotherapy is a very, very scary thought if you’ve never been through it. Mine, thank God, didn’t affect me as much as you would think. [We get our] ideas of chemotherapy through the movies and through the media. It’s not as bad as that and sometimes it is. It just depends I think on how your
body reacts to it,” Emily says.
Emily’s best advice for other women facing cancer is to take time making treatment decisions. “Listen to the doctors and listen to yourself. Talk it over with your friends, family, make sure it’s the right decision for you. And try to stay positive.
I truly think that being positive is the hardest and yet the easiest thing to do. You have to really focus on it. I think it’s something that you really have to truly want to do and it’ll help you get through.
“Life can be short. It has a lot of turns in it that you aren’t expecting, and you know, I think that with the research and everything that has happened, a cancer diagnosis isn’t necessarily a death sentence anymore. I think learning what I now know, going through cancer treatments, I am more positive and accept what life throws at me to make the most of it that I can.”