Book review of Michelle Whitlock's "How I Lost My Uterus and Found My Voice."
Michelle Whitlock has written a straightforward, educational and engaging book about her journey with and through cervical cancer.
After initially receiving a diagnosis of cervical cancer at age 26, Whitlock refused a radical hysterectomy, choosing instead to pursue a less radical procedure that would preserve her fertility.
Yet that is far from the end of her story. In the two years after her first diagnosis, Whitlock fell in love and got engaged, finished her college degree and began moving up in her retail management job when she learned her cancer was back. Here, the story becomes one of love and endurance as she fights for the ability to be a mother even when she wasn’t sure she wanted children.
Ultimately having to undergo the radical hysterectomy she had hoped to avoid, Whitlock chose the doctors who she felt would help her through the procedure with dignity and understanding. Before surgery, she had eggs harvested and, with her husband, created embryos, their “maybe babies.”
After reluctantly undergoing radiation and chemotherapy, she was left with hot flashes and a shortened vagina. She writes candidly about the year it took to regain her sex life, offering other women in this situation a how-to book and encouragement that it can be done.
And in the best happy ending ever, Whitlock talks about the birth of her daughter, Riley Grier, in 2009. In an honest, no-holds-barred way, she relates the experience of working with a second surrogate and using the last viable embryos the couple had preserved.
It’s hard to find first-person cancer stories that are well written and compelling, but this is an excellent example of such a story.