I have cancer.

I was diagnosed with cervical cancer today. It’s adenocarcinoma, & I’ll need a cone biopsy before we know stages or how invasive it is, but it’s definitely not great. I’m a little nervous, because my last Pap was normal (my ob-gyn did a colposcopy because I was positive for a high-risk form of HPV, & she saw some troubling patches on the colposcopy so she did a biopsy, which turned up the cancer deep inside the cervix). The cancer is so hidden away, I’m nervous about how long it’s been lurking in there. The standard long-term treatment is hysterectomy, so I guess conversations about why Ramona is an only child are about to get a lot more awkward. I’ll have to travel to Kansas City for treatment, because there’s no cervical oncology center in Lawrence.

All I can say is, if you have a cervix, don’t skip your Paps. & don’t let your doctor do a Pap without testing for HPV & especially confirming which strain you may be positive for. HPV is very common, but there are only a few that are linked to cancer. My doctor wouldn’t have found this cancer if she hadn’t typed my HPV & decided to err on the side of caution by ordering a colposcopy.

& if you have a child (of any gender), seriously consider the HPV vaccine. It’s a VACCINE against CANCER. I mean, come on! Even though cervical cancer is quite treatable when it’s caught early (& I really hope mine was), the treatment is pretty radical. I wasn’t planning to have another kid anytime soon, but it still sucks to have the option snatched away, & it still remains to be seen exactly what my treatment will entail or what the long-term consequences will be. If you can spare your children any of this, do it.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

39 thoughts on “I have cancer.

  1. So sorry to hear this news. Thank you for being brave and sharing this with world Web to raise awareness. Prayers coming your way x

    1. Thanks. I don’t know if it’s so much “bravery” compelling me to share as just a lack of a filter. & wanting to give an explanation about why there has been so little sewing content here recently.

      1. I think sharing something so personal and how positively you have approached this situation is brave. Keep strong x

  2. Oh man that sucks! I’ve never commented but I have been following your blog for a long time. Years i think. The only one I follow actually. I found it through your posts about getting pregnant and having that positive pregnancy test that then showed up neg at the doctor. I was going through infertility too for 2 and a half years. Finally have a baby. Hes almost 5 months old now. Anyways I need to go in for a pap and have been putting it off because well, life just gets in the way. Im making an appointment today! I just wanted to tell you that I’ve been here for awhile and eventhough you don’t know me, Im thinking about you and hoping that everything will be OK.

    1. Thanks, that means a lot. Congratulations on the baby! I’m glad it happened for you, even if it took a long time. I know this whole cancer experience would be so much harder for me if I didn’t have my daughter. She truly is a light in the darkness for me.

  3. I just found you today. I followed the shirtdress from somewhere. I have already prayed for you and lifted you up for complete healing. You do not have to be brave with your sewing buddies. I am sure that you have many true friends who will want to know how treatment is going and how you are feeling. Take all of the help that is offered.

    1. Thank you. I will try. It’s really not easy for me to ask for or accept help, but I know I will have little choice while I am in the thick of this. People have already been so thoughtful & generous.

    1. Thank you. I also hope it was found early. My first surgery is next month, & that will give us more information so we can decide how to proceed with treatment. I’m really hoping to be on the other side of this whole thing within a couple of months.

  4. I can’t imagine what you’re thinking right now, the wait until you learn the extent of the damage will be interminable, i hope it’s not too long and that the prognosis is good.

    Your post will give others pause to think about their health, which is your intention and that’s one positive you can chalk up right now. Here’s to many more.

    1. Thank you. Yes, it’s really hard. I will have my first surgery next month, & hopefully that will tell us how advanced it is. I’m hopeful that it was indeed caught early, but in the meantime, every little twinge makes me nervous.

      A lot of people have told me that my news spurred them to make doctor appointments they’d been putting off, or get their kids the HPV vaccine. So that is a silver lining.

  5. I already commented on your instagram, but I am sorry this shitty shitty thing has happened to you. Best of luck with your treatment and I hope the scans come back as best they can (if that makes sense).

    Gardasil was pioneered in Aussie schools when I was a student, and is now part of the regular vaccination schedule for boys and girls (I think). I can only hope this disease can be eliminated in our lifetime.

    1. Thanks. Obviously I am also hoping that treatment goes smoothly & is successful. Only a month until the first surgery. I should make an advent calendar.

      There’s no reason the next generation should have to worry about cancer caused by HPV. There are still some very rare forms of cervical cancer that are not associated with HPV, but if it can be avoided with a vaccine, why would anyone not try? This shit is really no joke.

  6. Sorry to hear…..I had breast cancer 15 years ago. Surgery, chemo, radiation…….I’m still here and I’m fine now. I am telling you this because when I got my diagnosis what I needed more than anything was to hear from people who had cancer and did fine.I did. And you will too.

  7. Oh Sweetie, I am sending loads of positive thoughts for good health your way. I’m hoping your treatment will be as painless as possible and that you will be cancer free very soon. Best of luck to you.

  8. I am so sorry to hear this. I hope your diagnosis isn’t too dire, and that your treatment goes well. It is just such A Moment when you’re told you have cancer. If you can get past your shock, may I urge you to get a second opinion about the diagnosis and recommended treatment protocol? (I was treated for breast cancer 8 years ago, and this was some of the best advice I ever got or followed.)

  9. Crap 😦 I hope all goes as smoothly as possible with treatment.
    In the UK the HPV vaccine was introduced as standard for 15 year olds a year or two ago. I was 6 months too old to get it free on the NHS catch-up program and have been debating paying for it. Going for my first smear just made me want to shout about cervixes – I felt like it was something I knew almost nothing about until I got the letter.

  10. This is so incredibly shitty, Ciara. I hope they caught it early. I’m crossing all my limbs. I’m thinking of you and sending loads of positive thoughts. I know they don’t help fight cancer, but they help fight the feelings associated with it by knowing people care a lot for you. So many hugs.

  11. This sucks so much, Ciara. I’m sorry you’re going through it. Lots of positive thoughts coming your way from me.

  12. Hello – I haven’t commented here before but I have been reading your blog for a few months now and often find mr self agreeing with you. Also love your sewing and your style. Really sorry to hear about the cancer and hope all the right things happen next for you.

  13. I don’t even know what to say. That blows absolute goats. If we were local, I’d bring you some easily freeze-able meals and offer to do childcare. We’re not local, so I guess that all I can do is say that goddamn that blows absolute goats. If you ever decide to send Ramona up here to spend some time with her grandparents while you rest/heal, we would definitely lend a hand.

  14. Oh wow. That is so incredibly shitty. I’m really sorry. I hope it was caught early and the treatment is not too involved.

  15. Dear Ciara,
    We don’t know each other. If only because I have been SO entertained by your posts you have become part of my life. I know how much this sucks, no really. It’s been twenty plus years. I still remember the cold metallic taste of fear. I was lucky I just endured two cryogenic surgeries and a bunch more tests and biopsies. After a few years more of no more bad news I quit worrying. But I remember and I don’t have the words.
    If my well wishing can make you heal, let it be.
    I know you’re a warrior, if you need help sing out. We will let you know you are part of an army.
    You have made me smile.
    You have a friend.
    Be well.
    Yours, Merry

  16. I’m so sorry. As a friendly internet stranger who drops in your blog and enjoys your posts, I hope your treatment knocks this bastard cancer right out and that you have the love and support you need around you. Thank you for the reminder for regular checks too. Sending you kind thoughts from London xx

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