Sharing a Cervical Cancer Journey
- Amanda Romero is currently fighting stage 3 cervical cancer after been repeatedly misdiagnosed for her pain. Now, she uses TikTok to share her journey and educate others about the disease.
- Cervical cancer begins in the cells lining the cervix – the lower part of the womb (uterus). Treatment options for cervical cancer include surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. HPV (human papillomavirus), a sexually-transmitted virus, causes more than 70% of cervical cancer cases.
- Vulnerability does not come naturally for everyone. But it might be worth it to try opening up, even to a smaller group of people, because you never know how much it can help you – or help those you share with – unless you try.
Romero, about age 37, had been seeing doctors for a long time to try to get to the bottom of her pain. She had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia first and multiple sclerosis, but it wasn’t until April 2021 that a trip to the emergency room and a pelvic exam finally provided answers.Read More
After the Florida mother received her devastating stage 3 cervical cancer diagnosis, she turned to social media to document her cancer journey. She’s been through chemotherapy and radiation treatments, but treatment efforts have not been very successful.
Per her most recent update on TikTok, Romero is now facing a hard decision to either stop treatments altogether to achieve a better quality of life with the time she has left or potentially try one more treatment. She’s currently undergoing evaluation to see if this last treatment effort is a viable option for her.
@amandavscancer Hard choices have to be made #cervicalcancerawareness #chemotherapy #jesustakethewheel #terminalillness #cancerfighter ♬ Surrender – Natalie Taylor
“I want to be able to enjoy the time I have left, especially with my babies. They’re so little,” she said in the emotional video. “I was given four years, and I mean I know ultimately god’s in control, but 4 years is just… I just thought I would have more time, so I’m having a hard time.”
Romero also recently told ABC Action News that her diagnosis could have been caught earlier if her scheduled pap smear in 2020 hadn’t been cancelled due to COVID-19. But instead of focusing on the hypotheticals, Romero is determined to use her platform to share crucial information about cervical cancer and screening.
“If they can detect it early and they can just do a hysterectomy or remove it, that’s what you want to be done,” she said. “You don’t want to put it off and wait until you’re in a situation like mine. Because now we live in the unknown, and it’s all trial and error.”
Understanding Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer begins in the cells lining the cervix – the lower part of the womb (uterus). Treatment options for cervical cancer include surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. HPV (human papillomavirus), a sexually-transmitted virus, causes more than 70% of cervical cancer cases. It’s important to note, however, that other risk factors like smoking can make you about twice as likely to get cervical cancer as those who don’t smoke.
The American Cancer Society estimates that the United States will see about 14,100 new cases of invasive cervical cancer in 2022. Cervical cancer screening is critically important because an earlier diagnosis can mean a better prognosis with broader treatment options. The American Cancer Society recommends that cervical cancer screening begins at age 25, and people aged 25 to 65 should have a primary HPV test, an HPV test done by itself for screening, every 5 years. If primary HPV testing is not available, however, screening may be done with either a co-test that combines an HPV test with a Papanicolaou (Pap) test every 5 years or a Pap test alone every 3 years.
The most common symptoms of cervical cancer can include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as bleeding after vaginal sex, bleeding after menopause, after douching, bleeding and spotting in between periods or having heavier or longer (menstrual) periods than usual.
- Unusual discharge from the vagina that may contain some blood and may occur between your periods or after menopause.
- Pain during sex.
- Pain in the pelvic region.
Creating Community during a Cancer Journey
During a cancer battle, it’s important to know that you are not alone. There’s a community out there for you to be vulnerable with, if you’d like, and it’s worth it to at least try to connect with some people as you battle the disease.
Romero has turned to TikTok to share her story and educate others, but she also also expressed how much the support from followers has meant to her. And she is definitely not the only one to build a support system in this way. Kate Hervey is another cancer warrior who has touched many people by sharing her story. A young college girl, she was shocked to be diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare type of cancer that tends to form near large joints in young adults, after seeing her doctor for tenderness and lumps in one of her legs.
Hervey, a nursing student at Michigan State, had to handle her cancer battle during the COVID-19 pandemic and scale back on her social activities as a high-risk patient. That’s when she turned to TikTok as a creative outlet and inspired thousands.
“One thing that was nice about TikTok that I loved and why I started posting more and more videos is how many people I was able to meet through TikTok and social media that are going through the same things,” she says. “I still text with this one girl who is 22. If I’m having a hard time, I will text her because she will understand. As much as my family and friends are supportive, it’s hard to vent to someone who doesn’t know what it’s really like.”
Hervey is now cancer-free, and says she couldn’t have done it without the love and support of her TikTok followers.
“I feel like I’ve made an impact on other people and they have made an impact on me through TikTok, which is crazy to say. I can help people go through what I’ve been going through as well.” She has graciously agreed to allow SurvivorNet to use her content in order to help our community.
So while sharing your story for thousands of TikTok users might not be your thing, it’s important to consider opening up to others about your struggles during a cancer battle. Even if it’s with a smaller group, you never know how much the support can help you – or help those you share with – unless you try.