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By Sylvia L. Ramsey
Tom and I scheduled the wedding for the upcoming spring. We wanted to have a church wedding. We reserved the church where we had been attending church. It had a beautiful Gothic-style chapel with stained glass windows.
We did not want to spend a huge amount of money on the wedding, but we wanted it to be special. I began making my plans for the wedding. I printed my own invitations and found a beautiful off-white satin gown. I decided to make my headpiece rather than wear a veil. I made my wedding bouquet and the one for my matron of honor as well as the boutonnieres for the men. Then, I started making the floral arrangements that would be used at the reception. I bargain shopped for everything. By doing this in January and February, I found some great things to use that were marked down. I planned the food for my reception and how I would do it without having it catered.
My wedding day came. My friend was helping me to get ready for the wedding when there was a knock on the door. My soon-to-be-husband was at the door announcing he had to make a quick trip out and would be right back. I asked him why, and he told me that he had left my wedding ring at his house that was 2 1/2 hours away. He was determined to put a ring on my finger, so he purchased a plain gold band until he could retrieve the wedding band he had originally purchased. Today, I wear both. The one he put on my finger that wedding day is very special. I wear it on my ring finger, positioned nearest my heart.
The wedding was beautiful. My older son walked me down the aisle, and Tom's youngest son was his best man. One friend, who teaches on the campus where I teach, was my matron of honor. The priest who married and the organist also teach there, and the Dean read the scriptures.
We held the reception at a friend's house, and it was lovely. One of my students who worked for me in the Academic Resource Center had also worked for a caterer and asked to be in charge of our reception. We had spent two days previously getting the food, the drinks and the cake. On the morning of the wedding, he stayed at the house to get the food and refreshments ready. I had no idea what to expect. When we arrived and walked in the door, everything was just gorgeous.
Tom and I began our new life. He came to my house on weekends because he worked out of town and had not yet retired.
My best friend back home called to ask how things were going. We had talked previously about whether or not I would be able to have an intimate relationship after all my surgery, especially since I'd had a radical hysterectomy. The radical hysterectomy involves removal of the uterus, the ovaries, the cervix and the upper part of the vagina. I was worried that part of my life was behind me. I had not been able to find out previously because my first husband was too ill by the time I had my bladder cancer surgery, and our relationship had traveled down a different path.
Once I married Tom, I discovered that all was well. A radical hysterectomy can make sex painful or even impossible because of the shortening of the vagina. Even under the best of circumstances, sex may feel like it did the first few times you ever had sex. Some women may not be able to have fulfilling sex after surgery like mine. It will depend on the extent of the surgery and the health of the person who had it. I was one of the fortunate ones.
"Everything works just fine," I told my friend. But, I added, "It is like the first time." We had a good laugh.
Since then, I have discovered there are many women who have had the same type of surgery and wonder the same thing. When I talk to women or to groups of nurses, I bring up the issue of sex after surgery. I do this is because no one will ask, even though it is a big question lurking. Some women have told me that they wanted to know but were too embarrassed to ask. That's why I continue my mission to share information about bladder cancer with other women.
Check back here to read more from Sylvia. Plus, read more of her story on HealthyWomen.org:
Living With Bladder Cancer
Two Diagnoses, One Couple, One Day: Could it be Possible?
Lots of Questions and No One to Talk To
Preparing for Surgery and Staying Positive
It's Not Leprosy, It's Cancer
My Bladder Cancer Surgery
Recovering from Surgery and Still Struggling to Find Support
Finding Humor in Trying Times
Adjusting to the New Life After Surgery
Achieving a "New Normal"—and Then a Setback
Recovering, Caregiving and Looking for Work
Getting the Word Out to Women About Bladder Cancer
Caregiving and Cancer Awareness: 2 Important Causes
Accepting When It's Time for Hospice
Learning to Let Go
Finding Strength to Say Goodbye
The Funeral: Just Part of the Journey of Losing My Husband
After the Funeral: Work, a Cause and a Social Life
Finding Love After So Much Pain