Katty's story: all you need to know about vaginal cancer
One week before her wedding, Katty was diagnosed with vaginal cancer at 35 - only 3 years post surgery for thyroid cancer. Today, the blond bombshell shares her story and show us how to recognise the signs of vaginal cancer and cope with a cancer diagnosis.
Katty, when were you diagnosed with vaginal cancer?
I was originally diagnosed with VAIN III, but after the surgery and biopsy, carcinoma in situ. I was 35 and given this diagnosis one week before I got married. Basically our honeymoon was surgery.
How was vaginal cancer diagnosed - did you have symptoms?
I didn’t. I went into my Obgyn well woman check up, for a routine exam, and my doctor noticed a “strange looking” spot on my vaginal canal, so we took a biopsy along with my Pap smear. I didn't hear anything for 6 weeks until something prompted me to log onto my medical account.
How did you react to the diagnosis?
I didn’t react super amazing when I found out I had cancer, because I was only 3 years post surgery for thyroid cancer.
I had to google the findings because I didn’t know what they meant. I started freaking out. I called my doctor's office but didn't hear back until Monday and got a referral to a gynecological oncologist. I cried for 2 minutes, pulled myself together, called my fiancé at the time, and went back to work.
What is the hardest thing about cancer?
Everyone tells you to BE BRAVE. BE STRONG. no one ever says hey, it’s okay to be mad or cry or be really upset.
On top of being told I was going to have surgery, I was 1 week out from getting married. Talk about stress upon stress. My now husband was good for me, he kept me motivated. He really pushed forward and made sure I felt okay.
What words of wisdom do you have for all women?
Please please please listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, or seem right, write it down, and then call your doctor for an appointment. Take your notes with you. A doctor isn’t a mind reader.
Do not skip your annual well woman visit. I know it seems like a hassle sometimes, but it could save your life.
Ask for an HPV test along with your Pap smear. This is not something that automatically happens. If you are not 30 or older, they will not add this onto your Pap test automatically.
What if I've been diagnosed with vaginal cancer?
People who love you want to see you fight and stay positive, but I’m here to say that it is honestly okay to have some time where you don’t feel positive. Where maybe you just want to scream and cry and feel sad for a minute.
Do some research on your diagnosis. The best way to fight something is to be armed with knowledge.
Find someone who has been through what you are about to go through. No one knows what cancer is like, unless they have fought it themselves.
Find someone (outside of your family & immediate friend group) who you can vent to. I promise you, the people closest to you will be your biggest supporters, but also make you want to pull your hair out if it hasn’t fallen out already.
Don’t live in the sadness, feel it, and then go back into warrior mode. Those feelings are totally fine and normal, but you will find that those closest to you don’t want you to feel that way. So feel those feelings, and then move on.
Be ready to embrace the new you. You are also going to be just an entirely new person yourself. Your body changes and your mind changes. There is also the emotional side of cancer. Sometimes partners can’t deal with what cancer has done to you, and your relationship doesn’t survive.
Cancer really really sucks. Even in remission, your life is never going to return to normal. Usually you have lost a part of your body from surgery and depending on what you have lost, it is probably going to affect you for the rest of your life.
Know the warning signs of vaginal cancer
Common signs and symptoms to watch for are:
Pain during sex
Pelvic or back pain
Having those symptoms doesn’t always mean you have vaginal cancer and you may have cancer and not experienced any symptoms. So, make sure to attend your annual well woman visit!
Thank you Katty for sharing your story and insights. We look forward to seeing you all in the Girls Rocking Cancer Community on Facebook or Instagram. You can also reach out to Katty on Instagram @kattydelux
Katty and Mel