While October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, there’s another cancer that also impacts women – vulvar cancer. In fact, not much is known about this disease, and for many women who contract this cancer, it’s diagnosed incorrectly. According to the American Cancer Society, in the United States, women have a 1 in 333 chance of developing vulvar cancer at some point during their lifetime.
So, for April Warden, Account Representative at America’s Car-Mart of Harrisonville, Mo., and a single mother, it was shocking to learn she contracted vulvar cancer. She had never heard of this type of cancer. With additional surgeries scheduled this month [October 2020], she wants to help increase awareness for this disease.
A special thanks to April for sharing her story about her cancer journey. We hope April’s first-hand account will offer important information for other women.
In her own words:
In March 2019, at the same time I joined the Car-Mart family, I, also, was given the devastating news that nobody wants to hear. I was told I had vulvar cancer. It was devastating enough to receive that news, but I was, also, told this is a very rare type of cancer. The biggest thing and that still worries me today is that nobody knows about this cancer.
After doing research it became much more devastating and extremely scary. Only one out of 75,000 women get this every year and usually only in women age 60+, and after they have been through menopause. I fall in neither of these categories as I’m only 49 years old.
Cancer usually starts as a skin disorder. I was misdiagnosed for two years. I knew better. The doctors just kept prescribing many different things for me.
Luckily, I came across a website that serves as a support group for women who currently have or have had vulvar cancer. This website has become a safe haven. When I have questions or concerns, it is much more comforting to go somewhere where people have the answers or at least can understand what I am talking about. I can talk to other women who are experiencing this cancer. Sometimes in talking to doctors, they don’t know or have any clue what I am talking about.
I was diagnosed in March 2019 and by the end of April, I had three surgeries. Since my initial diagnosis, I have had 13 surgeries including biopsies, a partial vulvectomy, and a modified radical vulvectomy. Additionally, I have received 33 treatments of radiation and six treatments of chemo. The treatments are very painful.
Fortunately, my son has been with me for every treatment. He’s only 19 years old, but he probably knows more about being a woman than most women.
It was hard then [experiencing the treatments] and it’s hard now. Every day is hard, and it gets more difficult every day. It hurts just to walk. It affects my everyday life.
Most recently, I was admitted to the emergency room for a sharp pain in my leg. The doctors didn’t know what was wrong and therefore, they weren’t all that helpful. They gave me a shot for pain and sent me on my way. This is an example of not much being known about this cancer, and it’s sad.
I suggest that all women pay attention to their bodies. This cancer won’t be discovered during annual pap smears. You must be biopsied to be diagnosed. If you feel something is wrong, get more detailed checks.
I want to give a special thanks to my Car-Mart General Manager Reuben Jones and our Senior Account Representative Lexee Nash.
They have been so incredibly supportive of me, and I am so very blessed to work with these kind people. They’ve seen a lot of tears, but they have helped me keep my cancer off my mind.
If there is anything more that I wish is to raise awareness of this horrible monster. It cannot be detected just through routine female checkups. Biopsies are usually needed to determine the correct diagnoses.
I truly wish there was more awareness of this cancer. Many times, the nurses will ask me, ‘you have what?’ It’s so frustrating.
So, yes, every day, it’s a battle. It’s hard to stay strong.
For more information about vulvar cancer, go to American Cancer Society.
At America’s Car-Mart, we’re always excited about October. It’s our annual Drive Away Cancer campaign – and you can drive away for $1,000 off your down payment! For every car we sell during October, we’ll donate a few bucks to the American Cancer Society – up to $10,000.
And we want to do all we can to raise awareness of breast cancer and all cancer. During October, we’re featuring stories of people who currently have cancer, have experienced cancer, or have helped loved ones