“The hardest thing was knowing I wasn’t going to have the option of carrying a child and giving birth.”

When she was diagnosed with cervical cancer at age 31, Andrea Gail Powell was living alone in Atlanta, far from her family and home in her native Michigan. Recovering from a total hysterectomy, she struggled with the reality of not being able to have biological children.

The road back

Her search for resources eventually led her to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC), where she now heads the organization’s Bloomfield, MI chapter and provides cervical cancer education and support in her community.

The proud mother of a flourishing adopted son, her own experiences won’t allow her to forget that care for cervical cancer patients involves much more than treating the medical aspects of the disease.

“An important part of my healing was devoting my time and giving my support to others who need the help.” 

“Health care providers have a crucial role in helping women adjust emotionally to their diagnosis after surgery,” Powell says. “This can be as simple as talking to the woman, getting to know her and how she feels and finding out exactly what her needs might be.”

Embracing others

Andrea’s advice is that women not go it alone. In addition to the comfort of family and friends, she says gynecologic cancer support groups offer a way for patients to connect with other women going through similar experiences.

Also, find your voice and get involved: Andrea came to NCCC spurred in part by a need to reach out. “When I found NCCC, I needed to be a part of something, something that would allow me to give support to those with cervical cancer,” she says. “An important part of my healing was devoting my time and giving my support to others who need the help.”