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Local woman shares her story of cervical cancer

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A series honoring Cervical Cancer Awareness Month 
 

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The gynecologist’s office called Aug. 12, stating that Humble’s test results were in and they wanted to see her the next day to discuss the results. Humble was able to bring her husband, despite COVID precautions not allowing any visitors into the clinic. After hanging up, she opened her Patient Portal to see if, by chance, the test results had been posted. They had been. “As I read the words on my phone screen I wanted to yell, I wanted to scream, I wanted to cry. Have you ever had so many emotions coursing through your body all at once that you couldn’t pick just one? For me, that is how my cancer diagnosis felt,” explains Humble. ‘Endocervical Adenocarcinoma’ was found in all three surface level biopsies but not in the endometrial lining biopsies, Humble says. She doesn’t remember the rest of the day. At some point she phoned her husband, her mother and best friends but she doesn’t have any recollection of making those calls. 
The following afternoon, Humble and her husband walked hand in hand into the clinic. “I could tell he was nervous. He was talking a lot, fidgeting and slightly disgruntled. Any husband who is about to hear the words “your wife has cancer” would feel the same way. He is a fixer and he knew he couldn’t fix this,” Humble says. The doctor walked in and confirmed the diagnosis Humble had already read, stating “You are the 1%. I had to go back and read in my medical journals about this specific cancer. It just doesn’t happen in women your age. We usually only see this in post-menopausal women.” 
Humble said the doctor told her the next step would be an excisional cone biopsy and scheduling an appointment with an oncologist. During this procedure, the patient is anesthetized and a cone shaped portion is removed from the woman’s cervix. This reveals how invasive the cancer is and how far it has spread. Humble says she had this surgery less than a week after she received her colposcopy test results. Things were moving quicker now and she was happy and sad at the same time. Happy that it was being taken seriously, yet sad that she was suddenly thrust into the world of being a cancer patient. Humble says that, “We prayed and decided to share my diagnosis on social media. I wanted to spread awareness about cervical cancer and advocate for women’s health. What followed was an overwhelming amount of prayers, love and support.” She says she is thankful for each of those people for helping her get through this incredibly difficult time. 
Humble says the cone biopsy surgery was tough because it wasn’t an easy recovery. There were no complications but she was not allowed to lift her newborn daughter for several weeks. Humble’s mother, drove back and forth from the Dallas/Fort Worth area to their home in Athens nearly every day to care for Humble and her grandbaby. One friend started a meal train for Humble and her husband and people from all over showered the family with meals and sweet treats for her girls, making sure Humble could rest and that her family was still taken care of. 
After three weeks, the results from the cone biopsy came in. The sample had to be sent to three separate pathologists and they could not agree on what type of cancer Humble officially had, nor how close the margins were. “After finding that out, I knew I needed to seek specialized treatment. I was blessed that the amazing M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston agreed to take on my case,” says Humble. The third lesson learned, you must be your own advocate. Take your symptoms seriously. My cancer is rare indeed and I knew I needed to fight for myself in order to see the best of the best. 
“So many things started happening after we shared our story and scheduled my first appointment at M.D. Anderson,” Humble stated. She continued, “My childhood best friend started a GoFundMe for my medical expenses and another best friend created a t-shirt fundraiser. People are truly amazing when you’re going through struggles. Never underestimate your community.” She says learning to accept help wasn’t easy for her but it’s something she’s learned she has to do once you’re diagnosed with cancer.
To read the final part of Humble’s story pick up the Sunday Jan. 16 issue of The Monitor.