health

"Today was the first day my cancer felt real. It's waiting, eating away at my core."

It’s all starting to feel real now.

I can’t see it.
I can’t feel it.
I can’t touch it.

But it’s there.

Looming, waiting, eating away at my core.

Today is the next step in my cancer journey. I have my first meeting with a specialist this morning.

I’m feeling hypersensitive and I’m an emotional wreck. Even the cold frost seems to chill right through my bones as I watch the clock.

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Image: Supplied/Kylie Haack

It’s 7.47am. Just two minutes since I looked last.

Messages start pouring in from friends and loved ones. I’m eternally grateful for these people.

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When life throws you a curveball, you truly do realise who will stand by you through these hard times.

I’ve been waiting for this day for two weeks. In the scheme of life two weeks is nothing, however, when you have cancerous cells eating away at your insides, it feels like years.

Casey is playing quietly.

She’s the reason I know I can beat this thing.
She’s the reason I get out of bet every morning, even when I wish I could curl into a ball and sleep for days.
She’s the reason I want to spread the c-word.

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Kylie and her daughter Casey. Image: Supplied/Kylie Haack

Us women need to stick together. I want women to realise that cancer can hit any one of us, at any time.

I quickly wipe my tears before Casey sees them. She’s the perfect distraction, but for once I want to acknowledge my feelings. I don’t want to hide from them.

Today, I want to cry. I want to be sad. I want to let myself feel the fear.
But I can’t. I have to pack.
I have to keep strong for Casey.

I gather our belongings and head to my parent’s place. Mum is going to look after Casey, and Dad is going to come with me to my appointment.

Listen: Samuel Johnson on spending time with loved ones with cancer. Post continue after audio.

I foolishly told my husband that he didn’t need to come to the specialist with me.

I said I’d be fine.

Not today.

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I kiss Casey goodbye and Dad and I head off to Manukau Superclinic. 10.30am rolls around and I’m taken through to an office where I meet my lovely Specialist, Min.

Min asks about my medical history. We discuss the symptoms I have – ones I never really knew were a problem until my smear test revealed that I had cancer.

The changes to my body were specifically to do with my periods, yet I had no idea that anything was wrong.

I figured that after having a baby, my body was just taking some time to get back to normal. I’d been on the pill for over 15 years which meant it was hard to tell if my periods were ‘normal’ or not.

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Image: Supplied/KylieHaack

After a ton of questions, Min begins to explain what will happen today. I’ll be having a colposcopy. A speculum will be inserted into ‘you-know-where’, swabs will be taken, and a biopsy will remove a small piece of my cancerous cells. All of this will be sent away for testing, and results should come back in two to three weeks.

Great, I think.
More fucking waiting.

Min believes it’s highly likely that the tests will come back and determine that I will require surgery. This will involve a general anesthetic, and a cone biopsy will be performed.

This is where a cone shape will be cut out of my cervix to remove the cancer. This will be sent away for testing, and all going well, that’s all that should be required.

That’s the big IF.

If the cancer has spread, then I’ll need a hysterectomy. (Post continues after gallery.)

A hysterectomy would mean no more baby Haack's.
It’s time to go into the exam room, and I ask Dad to come in with me. You’d think it would be weird to bring your father into a private exam room like this one, but it isn’t.

I’m covered up the entire time and as he says to the Specialist, “We’ve been through a lot together”. And we have.

I love this man. He would do anything for me. And anyone that is lucky enough to be a part of Mal Simpson’s life knows just how lucky they are. He literally is the most amazing person, and he has a heart full of gold.

It’s time to get prepped for the colposcopy. I lie on the bed, with my legs in stirrups, and I feel thankful that this isn’t new to me. Having a child helps you accept that sometimes you just have to bear your womanly bits. And if I want to fight this cancer, I don’t have a choice.

Image: iStock

I expected the procedure to be painful, but it really isn’t. The only part that’s uncomfortable is when my cervix is being poked and prodded. This causes cramping which is never nice.

In about 15-minutes, I’m all done. The nurse, Catherine, gets me to fill out a novel of forms, and then takes my height, weight, and blood pressure.

Dad, always the clown, gets his height and weight done at the same time, only to find out that he’s shrunk in height. He’s devastated and for the trip home continues to explain that “He’s lost a piece of his manhood”. I can’t stop laughing. He has an innate way of turning what could be a shitty day, into something (almost) fun.

Did I mention again I lucky I am to have this man as my father?

I’m exhausted after the day’s events, but I feel like I’ve taken one step forward. After all, if I hadn’t had a smear test a couple of weeks ago I would have had no idea that cancer was living inside of me.

That’s the scariest part, I had no idea that I had cancer.

I lay my head down to rest and for once I wish I could fast forward time. All I want is to receive those results and know that I will be okay. That I’ll need surgery and then I’ll be rid of this damn cancer.

But for now, it’s back to waiting.

Let’s hope the results come sooner rather than later.

Until then…..

Kylie Haack is a mother, a wife, and a writer… but most importantly - she’s a survivor. From a tragic car accident causing death, through to PTSD, anxiety, prenatal and postnatal depression, Kylie has endured hardship that no woman would wish upon their worst enemy. And to top it all off, she now has cervical cancer.

Don’t be fooled though – Kylie doesn’t want your pity. Her message is clear; to share her story and to help other women live beyond their pain, so that they too can take control of their life, and live fearlessly.

This piece was first published on kyliehaack.com. You can keep up to date with Kylie Haack's journey on her blog or follower her on Facebook and Instagram.

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