Issue No. 5
A Better OptionDate: June 24, 2009
When I started having abnormal bleeding, I knew something was wrong. Then my doctor told me I had tested positive for cervical cancer. That was my first shock.
When the gynecologic oncologist I was referred to told me I needed a radical hysterectomy, I got my second shock. I knew that meant a complicated surgery with a long recovery.
I came to Johns Hopkins and Robert Bristow, M.D., for a second opinion. I got the same diagnosis, but a different solution. Instead of a traditional, open surgery, he recommended a minimally invasive robotic-assisted hysterectomy. The procedure was safe and more precise; I could return home within a day after surgery and the recovery time would be drastically reduced.
Still, I was torn with what-ifs, and had a week of sleepless nights because of the decision I faced. But Dr. Bristow told me if he needed to switch from robotic to open during surgery, he could easily do this. Not so easy the other way around.
I chose the robotic procedure, and it couldn’t have turned out any better. I did go home the day after surgery. In less than three weeks, I was back to work. I didn’t need radiation therapy or chemotherapy. I barely even needed pain medication; just some acetaminophen for a couple of days.
I learned a couple of lessons. First, women need to listen to their bodies. Then, they need to do their homework. That’s how we make better decisions about our health.?
Cervical Cancer Fast Facts
- Cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection.
- Half of women diagnosed with cervical cancer in the U.S. are between ages 35 and 55.
- Up to 70 percent of sexually active American women will become infected with HPV during their lifetimes.
- It’s important for older women to continue having regular Pap tests that screen for cervical cancer at least until age 70, and possibly longer.
Learn more about Renee Burcin’s story at hopkinsmedicine.org/gynecologic_oncology. For appointments and consultations, call 877-546-1872.