Teal Power Canuck

Sharing My Journey & Raising Cervical Awareness in Canada

My Story

31 Comments

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January is Cervical Cancer Awareness month in the U.S., but I’m a Canuck that lives in Toronto and we don’t really have a month dedicated to this disease – a disease that recently touched me personally. So I’m starting a blog to mark Cervical Cancer Awareness month… I mean if news about the Kardashians and Duck Dynasty bleeds up here, why can’t this? I don’t need this to be a movement, I just want to raise awareness and share my story.

First off, a little about me – I’m a 33-year-old public relations professional, specializing in TV publicity. I’ve had a hectic, but awesome 13 year career and recently launched my own company in 2013. I’m also a foodie who loves creating in the kitchen and am a huge musical theatre lover and an avid football fan – Go Irish, Go Ravens! I have an awesome support network of family and friends – and everything I have been going through the last few months has really proven this to me.

On October 31, 2013 I got spooked. A few weeks earlier I noticed irregular spotting between periods, which was really odd for me – so I booked an appointment with my family doctor. After a few tests, and sending me to the gynecology clinic at the hospital for a procedure, I got a call to come in for the results on Halloween. Feeling overly confident I went to the appointment by myself (in hindsight, not the smartest decision)… and then I got told I had a tumour on my cervix… stage 1B1. My heart sunk and I felt like I escaped my body for a bit – but my doctor and the nurses at the clinic were so fantastic to me. The most important things I retained – I caught it early, its treatable, and I had options. I took armfuls of information to read and research, and I walked back to my car and called my boyfriend to tell him the news. We cried as I sat in my car for what seemed like an hour. We knew this could be one of the outcomes, but you never can prepare yourself to actually hear the words… You Have Cancer.

For those of you who know me, outside of this – I’m a relatively healthy person. Over the last couple of years I have really been watching what I’ve been eating and working out regularly, mixing up running, going to the gym and a lil P90X action. My dad suffered a stroke almost 8 years ago, and I really wanted to start taking care of myself. For the most part I make my own food because I want to know what was going into what I was eating – which has spawned an obsessive foodie who makes everything from scratch. Check out my Instagram ;). I ran two short distance races last year, the 8K Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago in the Spring and the 5K at the Scotiabank Marathon in Toronto – and I ran this the day before the procedure that would tell me I had cancer. 2013 was the healthiest Ali I could have possibly have been, and setting my own hours really helped me maintain that. I am a person who regularly goes for her annual physical. I have gotten regular pap tests since I was 17, all coming back clear. I even had a physical in August – no pap test this year cause new provincial guidelines say its only given every three years, which I was not happy about – but everything from my physical came back clear. But now I have cancer. And it’s a cancer that is all circumstantial.

A little bit about Cervical Cancer in Canada:

  • In Canada, 1,300 to 1,500 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and almost 400 women die of this disease each year
  • Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in Canadian women between the ages of 20 and 44
  • For every case of cervical cancer that is diagnosed and treated, there are between 50 and 100 women who are found to have cervical precancerous abnormalities
  • Approximately 75% of sexually active men and women in Canada will have at least one HPV infection in their lifetime. For some, this will lead to cervical cancer

I’m currently in my third week of radiation and chemotherapy treatment. I’ll go into my treatment and why I chose it in another post. If there is one thing I want to accomplish with this blog is that we are not immune, we are not invisible – listen to your body, go to your doctor, get tested, don’t get so caught up in the busy of your daily life that you sacrifice you – it can save your life… it’s going to save mine.

Why #tealpower? Teal and white are the colours of cervical cancer awareness and I’m a fan of the hashtag. You will see it a lot from me on social media and on this blog. Use it if you like. Thanks for the support and for reading and I hope you enjoy following along with me on this journey.

a.

Me after running the 5K at the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon in Toronto in Oct 2013. I ran this race the day before the procedure that would tell me I had cancer.

Me after running the 5K at the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon in Toronto in Oct 2013. I ran this race the day before the procedure that would tell me I had cancer.

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31 thoughts on “My Story

  1. You are a good person to spread the word like this but I always knew you were a good and wise person and a pleasure to know .

  2. Thanks for sharing. You’re such and inspiration. I have somewhat a similar story. About 6 years ago I had a pap test (which I have done every year since I was 19). Every year it results came back normal and off I go with my normal life. This time the doctor’s office called me and told me to make an appointment. I didn’t think anything of it as in the past I’ve had many yeast infections or some kind of abnormalities they would find and she would just explain the and my doctor will only prescribe me an antibiotic. This time it was a different finding and I was shocked too. She told me that I had an HPV infection. My body froze and warmed up all over. She told me that if it’s not treated it would turn to cervical cancer. I asked how I could have gotten it as I am not really sexually active but she said that it could be anything and just looking at my records (she’s been my doctor since I was 19, I’m 52 now) she knows everything about me. I also had a ruptured ovary and had a surgery to remove one. She told me it could be from all the yeast infections I have had and taking oral pills and vaginal sex. But she sent me to a well renowned doctor that treated these kinds of diagnosis. I went to this doctor at Sunnybrook every 3 weeks for 7 months. Each visit was always nerve wrecking but I was always assured that I was going to be okay. After the 7 months of treatment, I had a pap smear and it came back normal but the doctor said that it could come back so I needed another pap after 6 months and that came back normal also. It is a big sigh of relief and am always careful now.

    I hope and pray that you have the same outcome after your chemo and radiation. I don’t know you but I feel that I do cause I share your experience somewhat though not to that extreme. You seem like a very strong person and you will get through this with the best treatment and all the love and support of the people around you. Wish you luck and keep us posted with your journey to recovery.

    Athena

    • Athena, thank you so much for finding my blog and sharing your story. Our stories do sound similar. Each visit more nerve wracking then the rest, but we get through it. I fight for all the amazing women like you who go through this. I wish you luck in your follow up appointments and will definitely keep you posted on my journey.

      alison

  3. Hearts! Thanks for sharing your story and spreading awareness. I will pray for you and wish you much success on your journey back to full health! xo

  4. Ali, I’ve been praying for you since the day Rach told me the news. Your strength is incredible and your smile is infectious! Your blog has sparked a light in me, not only bringing a new layer of awareness to my routine, but also giving me information that I truly needed. Just like me, many women MUST be concerned and informed. I thank you for exposing this inspiring piece, allowing many of us to witness your journey and example! #TealPower indeed!! You go girl! Have a kick-ass 2014!! xoxo Leigh

  5. Brave, strong, amazing….my friend. #sohonoured #tealpower

  6. Wow thanks for sharing, girl. I had a pretty bad scare of similar nature but thankfully it turned out to be nothing. You’re an inspiration! Sending positive vibes.

  7. Ali, what a shocker! But knowing you, you will knock this right outta the ballpark! Supporting you, my fav actress, with prayers.

  8. Thank you for sharing Alison, you are an inspiration! sending you light and love!

  9. You are a strong, amazing woman with the ability to fight this. Know that you have many friends with the power of prayer, positive thinking and love to help you through this. You will succeed. Thanks for sharing this with us!

  10. Hi Alison, I read your post with great interest. First, thank you for sharing your story – you are truly an inspiration. Secondly, and sadly, I too have similar run-in with this dreadful disease through my husband, whom like yourself, is a healthy and young person caught off guard. I share your pain. But you are right: we can defeat this! Keep the faith! xo Rowena

    • I wish your husband much luck Rowena with what he is going through. thank you for reaching out. means so much to me. As I say to my boyfriend all the time, you partners are going through this just as much as we are, albeit it not physically. We would not get through this without people like you – so thank you!

  11. Alison!

    You beautifully brave woman. I am sending all my love and support. I feel like I was meant to read this today. Thank you for sharing and pulling the curtain back on what so many would choose to withhold. Even as I write I feel an out-of-body experience because of how you have struck a cord within me. My sister is going through some tests and I know If I send this to her she will find comfort in your words. I have found comfort in your words. You are an inspiration.

    Thank you!

    As my friend Ani would say “Just Keep Fighting”

    Love you!

    – Chris Ning

  12. You’re a strong woman Allison…thank you for sharing your story and promoting awareness to our bodies. The big “C” has touched my family as well and it helps having your family and friends there for strength and support at this time. My love and strength to you. X

  13. Hi Alison, thank you for sharing this. I came across your story and found it to be so inspirational. I wish you the best of luck this year and lots of prayers are going your way. Your strength, perseverance and motivation are going to get you back to your health again! God Bless.

  14. Thanks for sharing your story. The good news is that it was caught early and you seem to be in fine physical shape and take good care of yourself. I don’t understand why the province has changed these guidelines but it’s something that we should advocating Kathleen Wynne to change. Women should have regularly annual paps. Anyway, I’m following your blog and I wish you a speedy recovery. You will be better soon, I’m sure!

  15. Thanks for sharing your story and being so open and real. I am a friend of your sisters from when she lived in the beach so came across your amazing story when she posted it on FB. You seem like such a strong, bright and energetic young woman. We can all learn from your journey and no one is immune. My best wishes on a full recovery.
    Claire Roberts

  16. Your beautiful spirit was destined to inspire many in your lifetime and this blog is your avenue to doing so. I saw you hash tagging #TEALPOWER on Facebook a lot and only recently saw that you are a survivor inspiring many! So happy to finally have time to sit and read your blog and will keep doing so! Thank you for spreading awareness; you’ve even made me pause to think about my own health. I also noticed this year that PAPs are now only every 3 years – also not a fan of this new stupid rule. What can be done about this?

    #TealPOWER, sistah. Mahal kita xoxo

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