Body Building to Fighting Cervical Cancer
My name is Amy, I’m 32, I’m from Melbourne, have partner of 6 and a half years and my fur baby, Tom (blue heeler) and wow, what a year 2020 had been.
I was preparing myself to get on stage for my first bikini (bodybuilding) competition when lockdown happened and my life took different turn.
My bodybuilding coach and I were talking on the phone about getting my bloods and check ups up to date. I am incredibly lucky to have a coach that cares about not just my training and nutrition but also my overall physical and mental health.
I knew I was overdue for a cervical screening test, so I booked that in too.
Not long after, I had a call from my doctor letting me know my tests revealed HPV and abnormalities. She told me this was a routine situation and not to worry too much.
Lockdown was ramping up in Victoria so I chose to book a private gynaecologist to avoid a long wait time. I know not everyone is this lucky. During the biopsy the gynaecologist said it didn’t look like cancer, just high grade precancerous cells.
I wish he was right.
He called me to give me my results as I couldn’t visit the clinic due to COVID. He asked me to make sure I had someone at home with me when he called. That was a big red flag.
You guessed it, I was diagnosed with the big C word… Cancer. Cervical cancer.
I went to see my gynecologic oncologyst, he explained that it seemed that I was in the really early stages so I’d likely only need a procedure called cone biopsy. This is where they cut circle out of your cervix.
During our appointment he explained worst case scenarios. These terrified me. I refused to believe that I would be the person who needed chemotherapy or a hysterectomy.
I had my cone biopsy which was only a day procedure and was very quick. I waited four days for my results and assumed no news must be good news.
I was wrong.
I found out there was still cancer in my cervix. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. I was quickly booked in for for a PET scan and an MRI while I waited for my body to recover from the cone biopsy.
The wait was killing me.
My partner and I began discussing and thinking about fertility and what this would mean for us. Then I began thinking of all the hard work I had put in to my bodybuilding and the competition I’d been training so long for. It felt like my goals and dreams were slipping away from me.
I had my next appointment which thankfully, my mum was allowed to come to. COVID made this journey very lonely and I had to attend most appointments solo.
I was told I had a type of rare cervical cancer called glassy cell, which was rare and aggressive. He said I needed to have radical hysterectomy (Surgery to remove the uterus, cervix, and part of the vagina. The ovaries, fallopian tubes, and nearby lymph nodes may also be removed.)
Thankfully, the cancer had not spread anywhere else.
I’m 32 with no kids and now I will never be able to carry my own child. My heart was broken. I was booked in to see a fertility specialist so I could have an egg collection before my surgery.
As I’ve been training for a body building competition, I’m a very active person. I’m used to training six days a week. Everyone around me was telling me to rest and recover but it was hard.
During my recovery, the doctors rang me and let me know that my results from the surgery came back clear but due to the type of cancer, they recommend radiation to be safe.
I had five weeks of radiation with little side effects. I was so incredibly lucky.
I had my radiation treatment done at the Olivia Newton John Cancer Wellness Hospital and I have to mention how amazing all of this staff were there. Sadly, I didn’t get to see Olivia- I was very disappointed…
During my treatment, I had a great support network around me and I tried to remain positive. There were only a few times I felt really sorry for myself.
I want to share my story to help people and show them that despite all the setbacks to remember that their comebacks are going to be even better.
Our health should always come first and I am living proof that cervical screenings are very important.