Why my cervical cancer diagnosis led me to MD Anderson for a second opinion

I received my cervical cancer diagnosis in May 2010, at age 45. A routine Pap test came back abnormal, and my local doctor wanted to do a biopsy. She changed her mind when I came in for the procedure. In just the week since I’d first seen her, my cervix had changed enough in appearance that she suspected I had cancer. She referred me to an oncologist in Tulsa, the nearest big city. The oncologist examined me on a Wednesday. He said he could tell it was cervical cancer just by looking at it and that I needed to get it taken care of right away. I had a PET scan done on Friday to make sure it hadn’t spread. Then he scheduled me for a radical hysterectomy. My initial cervical cancer treatment As a registered nurse, I’m used to being the caregiver in health care settings, so it was hard to process everything. But in my mind, having the cancer “out” was better that “in,” so I drove home, told my husband, then drove three hours north to watch our daughter’s college graduation. Three days later, I had the hysterectomy. When I awoke from the anesthesia, the doctor said it was squamous cell carcinoma, but that he had gotten all of it, so I didn’t need chemotherapy or radiation. I also discovered that he’d given me a supra-pubic catheter rather than a regular one. This meant the urine drained through a hole punched surgically in my bladder rather than through a tube inserted in my urethra. The catheter started leaking within two days of leaving the hospital, and...