Invite Doesn’t Always Mean You’re Going!

December 24, 2010

I know there are a few of you out there who followed my blog during my application process. I haven’t posted on here in awhile because I have been busily preparing for my service in Thailand, but given the events of the last two weeks I felt I should post on the wall of applicants going through the process. I want you guys to have as much information about the potential issues during the application process as possible. I found a lot of help on these blogs and want to return the favor.

The last few weeks have been extremely difficult. I received my invitation back in October and have been preparing every since. Unfortunately, a medical issue came up that lead to a deferral and now my invite for January is on hold. I am supposed to be leaving for service on January 7th, but won’t know until next Wednesday/Thursday (8 days before departure) whether I’m actually going to be going. Talk about a roller coaster. I see everyone posting on here that they are anxiously awaiting an invite, or frustrated that they haven’t heard anything yet … and then extremely thrilled when the invite comes through … I know, I went through the same emotions. It’s almost like that invite is the finishline – the guarantee that PC is going to be a part of your very near future. Unfortunately, for some people, myself included, that invite doesn’t end up being the finishline and you have a series of additional hurdles to overcome.

Anyway, here is a brief recap of what has been going on for those that might end up going through something similar (fingers crossed you don’t have to). There are a details on my medical issues (since I know a lot of women go through the same thing) so if you don’t want as much detail, you can read my updated blog with a more general approach to the issues … you can find that at

1st week in December – busily preparing for Thailand!

December 5th – Routine doctor visit to keep up-to-date on my 6 month appointments for my HPV and medical accommodation. I didn’t have to go in as my doctor cleared me for 15 months (a necessary requirement to get cleared for PC), but I was deferred from my October departure and thought I may as well go in and make sure things are good. If I didn’t go in, I would technically be going 21 months before my next appointment and I just wasn’t ready to go that long after having gone every six months for the last two years. I assumed everything would be fine seeings as though I’ve received the same results for the last two years – all ASCUS cells with CIN1 abnormalities … very low grade issues. Well, I was wrong. My reports came back with HSIL (high grade). I was referred to a specialist.

December 10th – Colposcopy and biopsy appointment. I had to have another colposcopy and biopsy to see if the CIN1 cells had progressed. It was almost guaranteed that they had, since the pap results had progressed, but we wanted to see for sure what I was dealing with. I hate these procedures. I hope I never have to have another one in my life.

December 15th – Results. Looks like I have CIN2 and some CIN3 abnormalities … not good. Not good at all. My doctor recommended a LEEP procedure to remove all the abnormal cells. A fairly simple procedure that she said would have me back up and running in no time so I could leave in January! Sounds great, right? No … according to Peace Corps, any medical procedure is an automatic 6 month deferral. Bummer. I spoke with my doctor about my options. She said that I didn’t need to get it right away but that I should have the procedure within six months just to be safe. So, technically I could still go to Thailand and just have the procedure there, right? Wrong again. If I had the procedure there, that would mean requesting a doctor’s visit outside of the normal visits, which woul mean I would have to tell them about my doctor’s visits at home. If I told them prior to departure, it would be another deferral because I am currently in need of medical treatment. If I told them there, it would be a discharge from service for non-disclosure of information … so basically, I didn’t really have much of a choice. I decided to have the procedure here in the states and go through the appeal process to hopefully still be able to serve.

December 20th – Procedure. Without going into details, it went very well. Recovery was a breeze. I’m my normal self already and am more than capable of serving … its just a matter of convincing PC of that.

December 24th (today) – I’m hoping for the first part of my Christmas miracle. I’m awaiting a call about my pathology results. I’m hoping for the words “clear margins”. Clear margins basically means that of the section of cells they removed, there was a layer of normal cells around the outsides. This would mean that they are confident they removed all the abnormal cells, which means a 90-95% chance that my issues are over and that I won’t have abnormal results again. This is what I need to put in front of Peace Corps for any chance of an appeal. If I can convince them that I’m healthy now and can perform all duties as a volunteer (have a great letter from my doctor) and also show them that there is little chance of any issue returning (the pathology report) then I very well could be cleared. However, if the results come back with unclear margins, that means that there were abnormal cells at the very edges of the part they removed, which means they could have left some abnormal cells behind. This means a higher risk (though still fairly low) of the abnormal cells returning … and less chance PC will accept my appeal.

December 29th – Wednesday … appeal day. The appeals board meets on Wednesdays. I will have all my forms faxed to them by Monday afternoon in preparation. I hope to hear by Wednesday evening or Thursday morning as to whether my appeal was accepted.

January 7th – Hopefully the day I will still be leaving for staging and then be off on my way to Thailand.

So much going on … so many emotions. I just want to end by saying to never give up hope. I’m a few weeks away from departure and still dealing with these issues, but I’m fighting to the end. Believe me, I didn’t always want to. Last week I was ready to throw in the towel … but it was my fellow Thailand volunteers (who I’ve met through Facebook) who have given me the strength to keep fighting for this last chance. Stay motivated. Stay hopeful.

I’ll keep you guys updated on how things go.


9 Responses to “Invite Doesn’t Always Mean You’re Going!”

  1. Sherlie Says:

    I am sorry to hear about your ordeal. I can imagine the emotions you are going through. I pray the results come back normal and you win your appeal. Initially I had a medical hold until I could get clearance for a similar situation (although not as serious). Best Wishes!

  2. K.A.W. Says:

    Oh wow. There is a lot that can happen after invitation. I really hope that your appeal will go well and that you’ll be in Thailand in no time. Good luck!!!

  3. Katie Says:

    I am sending my positive thoughts your way… Thank you for sharing! I know it must be really hard dealing with all of these obstacles. You are extremely strong. Happy Christmas… Good luck with everything!

  4. The Strix Says:

    Girl, you have been through so much already. I’m really rooting for you.

    There’s no way around the suckage, it DOES suck. But you can overcome it.

  5. Christina Says:

    WOW 8 days! I’m hoping for the best for you! What a stressful situation.

  6. Natalie Says:

    I’m keeping positive thoughts for you! I found your blog entry on the Peace Corps Journal website, and I can relate to what you’re going through. See, I received an invitation over a year ago to serve in Tonga; however, a legal issue came up and I was deferred for a year. It was a really difficult time for me, but I spent that year working to pay off student loans (I got them all paid off during that time!) and reflecting on what was really important to me in life (which, in the end, still came back to humanitarian work and Peace Corps). After the year was up, I reapplied; in fact, I submitted my application at 12:01am on the day I was eligible, and I went through the entire application process for a second time. I received a second invitation, and now I’m waiting for my departure on January 11th for Nicaragua. I know this is a very hard time for you, and I really hope that you’re able to get your appeal; however, if for some reason you are deferred, it’s still very possible to wait out that time and reapply. I am a testament to that! The Peace Corps will be around for a very long time, and if it’s something that you’re really passionate about, you’ll be able to make it happen. Good luck!!! Don’t give up 🙂

  7. Larissa Says:

    I hope your appeal comes through! I’ve just recently gone through a similar roller coaster and so I understand how trying it can be. You sound like you are exactly the kind of person that will thrive in the Peace Corps.
    Best of luck!
    PC Morocco 2011-2013

  8. Kate Says:

    Oh man, I hate to hear that you’re going through all this! Hopefully the appeal will go smoothly and you’ll get to go to Thailand. I’m sending good vibes your way!

  9. Suzanne Says:

    Hang in there! The SAME thing happened to me after my invitation and immediately before staging – it felt like a disaster at the time but I ended up as a volunteer in Central America for 2 years just like everyone else. I ended up being deferred for 6 months but in the long run, that’s the easiest part of the PC 🙂

    I know it’s an emotionally traumatic experience, with your docs telling you all kinds of stuff and the PC docs telling you all kinds of other stuff, not to mention the procedures themselves. You are strong! Don’t give up – you really want this and will make it through. Good luck!

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