To Hysterectomy or Not to Hysterectomy? Is that the real question?
Welp, after a good run of 27 years of being in practically perfect health (in addition to being in the best shape of my life due to my new found obsession with heavy weightlifting a little over two years ago), I have come to a bump in the road. A large bump, a small bump? Well, I think that's all in how you view it and what sort of attitude you want to have towards it.
I went to my yearly gyno appointment, like I always do, only to eventually be diagnosed with AIS (adenocarcinoma in situ) after an in office colposcopy followed by a cold knife cone biopsy surgery to hack out a small piece of my cervix. What the heck is AIS? It's a pretty rare form of cervical pre-cancer, that basically (well, not basically, it does) guarantee you will have a hysterectomy some time in your future. The question really is when exactly you should get it, and it's not as clear cut as you might think.
Since I'm young, my gyno and oncologist's major concern is to save my fertility. Hmm..if my life is on the line though, is fertility really that big of a concern? That's what I thought going into my first appointment with the oncologist. Well, he said, most of these cases are slow growing and I'd like to closely monitor you and possibly do another biopsy to see if we can get all the pre-cancer out. That way, you can keep your fertility for now and as long as the close screening goes well, you can wait to have a hysterecomy until after you decide you're done childbearing to help ensure the precancer won't ever develop into cancer.
Ok, this might not be such awful news (well, it really isn't, in my mind at least...he's not giving me a death sentence. That's always the worst case scenario I go to, so everything looks like the glass is half full to me). But I'm not even in a relationship. How soon do I need to start popping out kids? What if I don't get married for another 10 years? Well, he said, if you were in a relationship, I wouldn't tell you to hold off on having kids, but I'm also not going to suggest running to a sperm bank tomorrow. Oh, ok. Well, that's good news..but..in a way, you are kind of saying I have a ticking time bomb inside of me you'll need to eventually take out so I don't get cancer, and the only reason we're delaying taking the ticking bomb out right now is just so I can maybe possibly have children one day when Mr. Right comes along, if and when he does. And what if he doesn't for another 10, 15, 20 years from now?
I guess the question I've been pondering lately is whether it is worth the risk of keeping my fertility for a few extra years, in fear that cancer could in that time develop in me. To be blunt, I'd rather be alive with no kids then dead with no kids (or worse, dead and having left a toddler behind). The oncologist assured me AIS gets treated conservatively all the time, but my online research has shown that you can't always necessrily catch when AIS turns into cancer because it can be higher up in the cervical canal than can be reached with a biopsy.
All I know is right now, I'm taking it one day at a time. My oncologist is currently reviewing my last biopsy slides to determine if he wants to just monitor me or go in for another biopsy to see if he can get negative margins (I'd personally prefer he go in again to try and get negative margins..I'd rather be safer than sorry).
If I end up meeting Mr. Right in time to have children of my own, that's fantastic. If not, well it's out of my control and I can find other ways to have a family. Yes, one could think this is sad, but in reality, it's not. I'm otherwise still healthy, strong, and full of life that I want to live. And I'm by no means going to force someone into my "mr. right" mold just so I can pop out a few biological children. I grew up in a very dysfunctional, unloving household myself and would not in a million years knowingly put my own children through that!
I think going through this experience has opened by eyes a little more, has made me grateful for the things I do have, and has helped force me to let go sometimes of things I can't control. Have I gone through my ups and downs and half mental breakdowns during this process since I was initially diagnosed about a month ago? Absolutely. I think that's just a healthy and normal part of the growing and healing process of difficult times we go through.
Until my doctor gets back to me, I just keep living my every day life the way I want to and keep doing the things that make me happy and surround myself with all of my loving supporting friends and family. It's what everyone should be doing daily anyway, regardless of their current situations, right? I think the real question is, whether I have a hysterectomy now or six years from now, do you want to live your life happily with the glass half full, or do you prefer to waste your time worrying and crying over why it is half empty?