I was featured in a recent Pioneer Press  article about overcoming your diagnoses and using your voice to inspire others.  Very proud to give a voice to a cancer that is often marginalized and forgotten.  This is for every cancer survivor.

Turning Point: Chaska woman chose to combat cervical cancer by talking about it

By Rhoda Fukushima
rgfukushima@pioneerpress.com

For two years, Kate-Madonna Hindes of Chaska had abnormal PAP tests. She was told not to worry about it and that the abnormality could be something as inconsequential as a yeast infection. In 2005, Hindes, a recruiting director and social media writer, gave birth to a daughter, Ava. Early the next year, Hindes went in for another PAP test, and the doctor found precancerous cells on her cervix. After a biopsy, Hindes was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She was also diagnosed with human papillomavirus (HPV). She was 26.

“The first doctor said we would attack it with a LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure). They use a laser to slough off the bad cells. I had to keep doing LEEPs because the dysplasia (abnormal cells on the cervix) kept coming back. That’s not unusual. I was told I would have to stay on top of it.

“I had three LEEP procedures, three colposcopies and a cold-knife biopsy.

“With the colposcopies, you feel like someone is peering into you and trying to find specks of wrong. That is all cancer is — changed cells, cells growing out of control.

“I was knocked out for the LEEP procedures. I was fortunate. The worst part is the ash that falls out of your body. I viewed it as my fertility dying. I had a choice: I could get depressed or I could change the world. I chose the latter.

“I spread the word. I tell my story. I have to stay on top of it.

“HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer. There are very few women who experience warning

signs of HPV. I had experienced fatigue, pain, cramping, but I just figured I was getting older.

“I was so ashamed that this happened to me, but there should be no shame. It’s a gynecological cancer, and people don’t want to talk about it.

“Now, I travel nationally and speak for the Tamika and Friends and the National Cervical Cancer Coalition. This is my stress reliever.

“I’ve had amazing things happen. I just got back from the White House. In early February, I met with an advisory team and Michelle Obama’s chief of staff.

“I have the best mother and father and good baby sitters where I can drop Ava off. I have a very supportive family.

“I do yoga. I shy away from coffee and soda. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. I don’t buy canned vegetables anymore. I no longer buy anything containing MSG. I used to be addicted to ramen noodles. I try to eat more whole grains. I’ve never been a potato chip person, but I eat veggie chips. I try whole-grain everything I can get my hands on.

“Cancer is just one thing of many things that can happen to people. It’s what we choose to do with our diagnoses that counts.

“No one is going to better the world if they hold everything inside. I think if everyone found something to be wildly passionate about, we’d all be better people.

“I don’t think this is going to be the most difficult thing I’m going to face. I have amazing friends and family. I believe my biggest weaknesses are my biggest strengths. My spirits are high. Cervical cancer can’t be the thing that will take my life. I’m on top of it.”

Have you turned the corner toward good health — physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually? If so, we want to hear your story. Please e-mail your ideas to rgfukushima@pioneerpress.com (no attachments, please) or call 651-228-5444. For more Turning Points, go to twincities.com/health.