My name is Cindy Lupica. I am an awareness advocate, author, I am a cancer ambassador, and an NCSD speaker. I survived Choriocarcinoma. It’s a pregnancy placenta cancer, a form of gestational trophoblastic disease. I was diagnosed on February 1 of 2014, and they staged me at 23, and my FICO score was 67. It was high risk and I had lung metastasis.
Symptoms and diagnosis
I had some symptoms during my pregnancy which were overall healthy. I started having some contractions around 25 weeks ago. Before that, I had a little vaginal itching. The doctor couldn’t find anything wrong. Then the contractions carried through until my daughter was born at 39 weeks. I bled postpartum for six weeks.
During that time, I had a PAP smear test that came back normal. All exams came back normal. The bleeding finally stopped after about two weeks. I had intermediate bleeding, like a light spotting. And then I finally had a small little haemorrhage which went away. I thought that it was a one-time thing. One day, I passed a clot. That’s when we called in my doctor and I was diagnosed the following day.
The initial reaction after being diagnosed with cancer
We knew something was wrong for the last several months. My first reaction was that I was relieved to finally have an answer. But I was surprised and shocked too. My husband was there with me. The Doctors explained how I got the Choriocarcinoma which was very helpful.
Treatments underwent and side effects
I had four single methods of methotrexate chemotherapy which didn’t show the expected result. So they put me on chemo cocktail emaco, which seems fairly common. It took care of it right away. I had about six and a half months of chemotherapy.
We have modern medication today, so it helped me a lot with nausea. Most of the time, I was just resting, staying in bed, and being very limited in what I could do. To deal with the long-term side effects, I use natural health products, exercise regularly, stay active, and do things like that.
Everything was so fast-paced. I never even had time to think about any alternative treatment. The night I was diagnosed, I had a massive haemorrhage, and I almost bled to death. And so it was just one thing after another. And they admitted me that night, ran more tests, and then I started chemotherapy within like two days after being diagnosed. So I had no time to think about anything. I was in survival mode trying to save my life.
Managing my emotional well being
I had a support system. I had my husband, my children, and other family members. And of course, I had my faith and my spirituality. I tried to stay positive and did a lot of research to find other survivors that had the same type of cancer. That brought me into the leadership role of advocacy. And this also connected me with other women and helped to create my groups and my page. This all helped me to heal and be able to connect to other women and get their support. I got to know their stories while sharing my story with them.
Experience with the doctors and the other medical staff
My doctors were excellent. I had three different separate teams. I couldn’t have been more thankful to have doctors who utilized the knowledge they had from the prior cases. They even consulted with one of the specialists from Boston when they didn’t really know what to do after my Methotrexate treatment failed as I became resistant to it. I couldn’t be more blessed to have the greatest doctors on my team.
Message to other survivors and caregivers
I tell everybody to be their own advocate. You should know your own body, and stand up for it. If you feel something is wrong, please go and get that checked. And don’t let anybody tell you otherwise, because you need to know your own body, be your own advocate, and know that you’re not alone. There’s plenty of support out there.
Things that made me happy
My source of happiness and motivation was my family and my children. I had a newborn at the time and I had to live for my children. I had to keep pushing through for them. My faith and my spirituality helped me to get through as well. I was in survival mode till I finished chemo. Then I had to learn to find my new normal. I had to learn my body all over again. So it was like finding life all over again with my family through different exercises, music, journaling, blogging, and supporting other survivors with the same type of cancer.
I didn’t make any lifestyle changes. I was always into working out and watching what I eat. I think I became more aware of my body and an advocate for other women. I did try various poses in yoga to challenge myself. I just enjoy every day as every day is a gift of life.
Life is short and we need to enjoy it. We need to see every day as a blessing and we should be very thankful and love our family. So, enjoy life and the time that we have.
I think all types of cancer need awareness. All types of cancers need support. We have to be there for each other because cancer rates continue to rise. We all need to be a voice for each other and support one another. We have to do more research and keep fighting cancer. Because I don’t know if cancer is ever going to go away.