Monday, October 4, 2010

...iT's nOt eAsY...

WARNING: Some parts of this post may be T.M.I. for you boys...but if you can handle might help someone you love...

Does being "strong" mean you can't be scared? I felt scared...really scared. The problem is that I always feel like I have to be Supergirl...that I should be I'm less than if I cry or feel scared...and that makes days like today a challenge...

I have not always been very good about getting my yearly "girly exams". Maybe it's because I haven't taken "the pill" since I had my oldest daughter that is now almost it's easy to forget or blow off. I finally went a few weeks ago because I wanted to talk to a doc about another issue (that I will spare you the details're welcome) and it had been nagging at me in the back of my mind that I was waaaaaay overdue. I just assumed everything was okay. It always was before. I expected a call a week later to say "The results of your pap smear came back normal." because that's what they always said before. No such luck this time. This time I heard the words "pre-cancerous cells" and my heart sank. The nurse reassured me that everything would be fine...that this happens all the time...yada yada yada...but all I heard was "pre-cancerous" and that I would have to come in for more tests and procedures.

So, today I went in for a more "in depth" exam. Yay. (insert sarcastic tone here) I'm usually tough. I handle stuff...but I felt kinda scared...and angry. I don't know why or where the anger came from...but I definitely felt it. I'm just glad that I did finally go in after being 4 YEARS overdue for an exam and didn't wait any longer. I left the office feeling much better than when I arrived stressed and shaking. The exam was not fun but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

You may be wondering why on earth I am talking about my irregular pap smear results on a blog called "Strong is the new skinny". What does that have to do with being strong? It has a lot to do with it in my mind and so I'm writing this is for these reasons...

1. I want to encourage women to keep up with their yearly exams. It's easy to get out of the habit or put it off. Cervical cancer does not JUST HAPPEN. It takes time and can be caught and treated early if women get a pap smear yearly. We eat right and train hard in the gym, but it takes more than that to stay healthy. Cancer doesn't care how big your muscles are or how fast you can do a workout...and it doesn't discriminate either. It can happen to anyone, and no one enjoys going to the doctor for these types of things, but it's worth it. Girls, keep your body healthy and strong in every way. And guys (if you're still here), encourage the women that you love to make and keep their yearly appointments.

NO one here is a super hero. We are all human and it's okay to be scared sometimes. My fear going into the office today doesn't make me weak. It's what I do with that fear that determines that. Ignoring the problem or letting it swallow me up would be the weak thing to do...and I don't want to be as much as I HATE going to the doctor...I'm seeing this thing through to the end and I will NOT be throwing any pity parties in the meantime. I'm going to stand tall and be a "big girl" because anything else would not be in keeping with the way I try to live my life these days...with strength and courage and a positive outlook. When faced with the choice to laugh or cry...I will choose laughter...always...and I hope everyone here makes the same decision.

3. Lastly, I wrote about this because I feel like the things I do in the gym...have helped me outside of the gym once again.
My fitness goes beyond my appearance and yours should too. Sure, it's great to turn heads in a bikini or be able to fit into a pair of tight jeans, but there's more to it than just that. Mark Twight says, "Tough workouts that push an individual to the very limit of his or her capacities may become the gateway to higher consciousness. And that awareness often leads to confidence." I have to agree. The mental toughness and confidence that I have developed through the suffering I've felt during my workouts is what makes me strong in these types of circumstances. The ability to keep going when I don't want to...when I'm tired...or when it hurts...makes everyday stuff like today's exam, a piece of cake.

Days like today are not easy, but I know I will be okay. I know that because I KNOW I can handle anything that comes my way...and true strength.



  1. I've been where you are and I'm only 25. 5 years ago I had a bad pap as well. I didn't get it looked at right away because of crappy health insurance. Finally, 3 years ago I had it taken care of. I had to deal with some pretty scary stuff but now I'm healthy and have been having "good paps" for 1.5 years. I always tell ALL my female friends to go get their exams done regularly. Thanks for sharing your story!

  2. I figured to be one of the only guys to comment on this, but my fiancee and I went through a similar situation 2 years ago. I went with her to the "in-depth" exam and let me tell you I was freaked out. I walked away with a different perspective on the whole situation. After a strange freezing of the pre-cancerous cells. We had to wait 4 weeks then go back for another exam. After than exam, everything seemed good.

    So its ironic you post this today, because we go back this Thursday for a follow up visit. It has been over a year since she's been so we are crossing our fingers nothing has changed.

    Good stuff Marsha!


  3. Thank you for your inspiration.

    I truly believe the mental strength from CrossFit helps just as much in my daily life as the physical does. I know life is a little easier knowing that the hard parts don't last forever and as long as you can suck it up and be "a big girl" you can get through anything.

    Good Luck! Stay positive and be strong.

  4. I was about 25 when I got that pre-cancerous notice, thankfully I was living with my dad at the time and he was like a rock for me! I did the LEAP thing, and now here it is 14 years later and I haven't had another irregular pap smear, but I always get them! Going for years without knowing, now that would scare the heck out of me, and I would probably stress myself into some kind of cardiac condition!

  5. David~ That's so amazing that you were there for her. It is not fun to go through at all! I'll say a little prayer and please send me a message after you go and let me know that she's okay (b/c I'm sure she will be)

    Thanks Alison!

    Louise~ That's so uplifting to hear that you can go through this and then be fine afterwards...and yes, my outlook is ignore exams now would be scary to me. I know everything will be okay, I'm just glad I went and got the wake up call I needed to get back on track!

  6. Your post is very inspiring and SO true!! I had been faithful on my exams but also had a bad visit and ended up having the LEAP procedure done as well Dec 09'. I too, go back for another follow-up in 2 weeks! I liked what you said about your fear and it's how a person acts from the fear to see their strength!!


  7. That's wonderful,
    Keep us all posted about yourself too!
    Keep on truckin' :D

  8. I have not been in YEARS!! Thank you for sharing your story. I get so caught up in everyday life I don't make this a priority or anything of the sort. I will make an appointment tomorrow because of your story. Thanks again!!

  9. Mindy~ Keep me posted on how your follow up goes...I'm sure everything will be just fine. :)

    Soph~ Thanks! I will keep y'all posted and I will definitely keep on truckin! (haha ! I LOVE that!) ;D

    Christy~ It makes me so happy that I could encourage someone to go. I was a little nervous about writing this thinking..."who wants to hear about my pap smear (EW)?" but now I know that it was the right thing for me to do! Please please please make that appointment!

  10. they'll freeze your uterus & you'll be ok. been there, done that. It may even be simpler these days...don't worry, the "c" (cancer) word scares, but You will be ok.

  11. There are lots of very effective treatment for abnormal pap smears. You are going to be fine.
    Thanks for promoting all aspects of self care and prevention.

  12. C'mon Marsha, us guys can take a blog post like this. First off, glad to hear you are ok!!

    One of the things I tell folks is that the gym prepares us for real life. Not just how we look in a bathing suit or one's skinny jeans. What good is a clean & jerk PR in the gym, if we can't stand strong for ourselves and for others?

    I see my doc annually for a routine physical. I also see my dentist twice a year. And also get an eye exam annually. All these things seem like a pain in the butt as they get in the way of my "normal schedule", but they are necessary and important.

    And like you said, we are all human, no matter how much we can squat. I also tell people that real life is savage. It can rip the strongest of us to shreds in an instant. It's ok to be scared. But we still need to do what we need to do. That's being strong. Even if we do it with tears in our eyes.

  13. I couldn't have said it better myself Howie! Thanks!!!