Today, International Women's Day, guest blogger Genevieve Sambhi, former Miss Malaysia/Universe first runner-up shares her cervical cancer story.
For me, this has been the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with. I am a mother of two young kids (Isabella was four and Alexander just 15 months at the time). The thought of not being there for them as they grew up, is what gave me the strength to go on and fight.
I can remember the day when my world came tumbling down. It was 6th of April 2009 and I’d been for my annual pap smear test three days earlier. I was at home feeding my kids their dinner, when a phone call from my father came through, (my father is a prominent gynecologist here), telling me that there were abnormalities' in my pap smear specimen.
The next day I was sent to a gynecologist who did more tests and told me I would be fine. However, two days later I was told I would need a cone biopsy. I felt ok and just wanted to get it over and done with. The surgery was minor and I was home the next day.
However 10 days later, I was then served the news that the cells were not pre-cancer and was more aggressive than first thought. I would need a hysterectomy. I was 35! This is when I sat down and properly cried. Who would look after my babies? I had cancer and surely that meant the end. This is when I believed that I would die.
I was given a month to come to terms with everything, before my surgery. I found it very difficult to accept that I was losing my uterus at 35. But finally it just dawned on me, I had 2 kids. I had a girl and a boy and a chance. That was all that mattered.
I went in for my surgery, and the next day back on my feet! I remember my dad saying that none of his patients were ever on their feet the day after a hysterectomy...... I answered... how many of your patients are 35? That was one thing I did have in my favor...age!
However, a week later, I was dealt, the worst blow. The cancer had spread and I would need radiation and chemotherapy. My world came tumbling back down. This was when I began to think and question, what had I done to deserve all this? I was a healthy, young, mother of two. I didn't smoke and drank in moderation. I exercised regularly and I have been with my husband since I was 20 years old. Why me? On top of this, I went annually for my pap smears, how had I gone from healthy to chemotherapy in one year?
The treatments were so hard and the only thing that kept me going were my kids, they needed me.
My family gave me the strength I needed to continue and when it was all over, I realized that maybe I could make a difference. I began to work with the National Cancer Society of Malaysia and we try to spread the word that cancer does not discriminate. If I could get it, then so could you. I believe No woman should have to go through what I did, and maybe I had to go through it, so there was someone who could spread the word that there is hope and you can get through it.I am now three years clear and every three months when I go for my pap smear, I do wonder that if the cancer came back, could I go through it all again. The answer is yes! My kids need me!