My name is Kadiana, and I am a single mom of two children, a girl and a boy, currently living in St. Lucia, a Caribbean island country. I am also a member of the Cervivor community, a group of patient advocates who come together to inspire and empower those affected by cervical cancer. Our mission is to educate and motivate others, using our patient journey and voices, to bring awareness about cervical cancer prevention, influence decision and change, and to help end stigma.
At the age of 37, I was visiting the US for about a year. My children were back in the Caribbean. I went to the emergency department due to some pelvic pain I was having that became unbearable.
The doctors did a pelvic exam, and took a sample of my cervix to send for biopsy. At that point, I knew it was going to be a fight. I had not had a Pap test since 2011, and I was quite fearful of the results.
I had already lost both my parents to cancer, so telling my family that their baby sister was now diagnosed with cancer was not easy. Some (family and friends) were in denial, others wanted to start planning for my funeral, and the rest were ready to fight with and for me.
Following my diagnosis of stage III squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix, I underwent 32 rounds of external radiation, 6 rounds of brachytherapy and 6 sessions of chemotherapy.
During my treatments my sisters and I also did genetic testing to look at my risk for other cancers, based on my family history. It turned out that I was positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation, which put me at higher risk for breast and ovarian cancer. So I opted for preventative surgeries that included a double mastectomy to remove my breasts, and laparoscopic surgery to remove my ovaries and fallopian tubes. I also had to have 4 more sessions of chemotherapy.
Healing is a very slow process. I am coming to terms with all that my body went through and I know that it is important to share my story. I want to do my part to help spread accurate facts and information, to empower change both at a global level and within my own local community.
There is too much stigma around HPV and cancer, and it that takes away from the hope women need if faced with a similar diagnosis. No one should feel alone, and education is needed about HPV and its role in cervical cancer.
We need to build the necessary infrastructure to be able to prevent and treat new cases. The World Health Organization launched a global strategy in 2019 to eliminate cervical cancer worldwide, and it is imperative that all countries take the necessary actions in order to reach the women who need it most.
Personal Story told 2022.