BATTLING A RARE DISEASE – By Colleen

My STD story is different from most of the test stories you will read here. Organisations like these don’t usually tell my story. I am so happy and proud to be able to share with everyone, as I have worked tirelessly to spread awareness of HPV Tests for several years and bring hope to other women suffering from the same diagnosis. There are many more than you would think.

In 2006, at the age of 38, I was diagnosed with small-cell neuroendocrine cervical cancer.

I was at the time, and of course still am, a breast cancer survivor and come from a long line of women who have battled this disease. My annual Pap HPV test was a given, not a choice. I never missed one. I’d never had an abnormal Pap and, in 2005, had been screened for HPV. I didn’t have it.

At first, I got a diagnosis of squamous cell cervical cancer, the one that accounts for about /O per cent of invasive cervical cancer cases. It is slow-growing. And caused by HPV. This is usually detected in pre-cancerous lesion stages. Yet in 10 short months, I somehow grew a seven-centimetre tumour that covered my cervix. This didn’t make sense to me.

How could I have a cancer that everyone says is caused by STD Virus?

How could I have never had an abnormal Pap? Including the one 10 months prior, and have squamous cells degrading?

I persisted with these questions until, finally, my radiation oncologist listened. I got a biopsy again, and it came back as small cell cervical cancer (SCCC). To further my point, there was no HPV in the DNA of this tumour. If I didn’t push, I would have been treated for squamous cell and would not be here today. I often wonder how many others out there suffered this STD Test and cancer fate, especially the ones diagnosed during pregnancy and right after giving birth. No one saw the “slow-growing abnormalities?”

SCCC has a poor prognosis for survival. Had less than a 15 per cent chance of surviving 18 months, less than that for a longer period and zero, zip, zilch if it ever came back. It did. In September 2013, I will be four years cancer-free from recurrence and seven years from STD diagnosis.

Over the years, I have found women from all over the world suffering from this diagnosis, and we all have a collective groan when we read. “HPV Tested causes cervical cancer” Listen to your body. Keep being proactive and informed. Knowledge is power and the only true form of prevention out there. There truly is such a thing as complete prevention of any cancer.

I don’t think there is. So, trust your instincts. No one knows you better than you. No matter what, get your annual “well woman” check-up. There is so much more to look for than just HPV and cervical cancer.

INTO HIS LOVING ARMS

By Janet

Bad things are not supposed to happen to good people, but they do every single day. It is fair to say that even the most knowledgeable Christians do not always comprehend the powerful works of our Creator. I believe that all devout Christians have questioned something God has done at least once in their lifetime; therefore, I am not ashamed to admit to having questioned Him several times when life didn’t seem fair. My Aunt Jolene’s diagnosis of HPV cervical cancer five years ago was one of those times, the most recent, in which I felt God was punishing an innocent woman who had always followed Him faithfully and loved Him completely.

Our family spent almost a year watching Jolene deal with her HPV Tested Cancer and go through 25 rounds of radiation, followed by chemotherapy, then loss of hair, two separate surgeries to remove the cancer, and yet another to repair bodily damage from the radiation before I decided that instead of questioning God, I was going to start trusting him with my aunt’s fate.

Something inside me told me that if anything was going to be done for her, it had to pass by Him first anyway because He is the ultimate STD healer.

Jolene’s HPV cancer returned only twelve months after what was to be her final radiation treatment. This time, the STD cancer had spread in masses much larger than the tennis ball size of the original mass. Since she had changed her diet, gotten more than her fair share of second opinions, exercised often, read at least fifteen books on curing cancer, and went to church routinely. Naturally, our family was devastated.

Jolene had done all the right things, and God had done nothing, so it appeared to me.

I prayed every night for Jolene’s STD cancer recovery, hoping that God was taking His time and planning His next miracle. But Jolene’s health continued to decline as she began to respond negatively to the chemotherapy. Despite a desperate trip to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston in 2006, Jolene returned within five days, having acquired no more information than she had received firsthand from her doctors in Indianapolis. Our family then counselled her, suggesting that maybe she needed to relax, spend time with her children, and let nature run its course.

Within months, Jolene’s HPV-tested cancer went into remission again. By the summer of 2006, Jolene was healthy, in good spirits, and resuming her active lifestyle. Eager to take advantage of the revival that God had granted her, Jolene did not waste a moment of that summer sitting at home; she exerted her athletic talents playing for her infamous community softball league, coaching youth softball and t-ball, spending the weekends travelling with her kids, and continuing to entertain our family with her undying sense of humour.

But six months later, Jolene received a diagnosis of cancer for the third time in five years.

I again asked God to give her the strength to fight it again.

Even though the cancer progressed fiercely throughout her body, she never let it poison her mind. Jolene was a woman of perseverance, the star competitor of her high school athletic teams, an intelligent mother of three beautiful children, and the strongest person I knew.

Jo’s role in my life has always been significant. She took care of me during a good portion of my childhood. Her passion for life was infectious to all who knew her.

Although Jolene lost her battle with HPV cancer, several valuable lessons can be learned from how she fought her disease. She taught us how to persevere. Vitally ill, not once did her condition consume her spirit, even though it was persistently degrading her physically, mentally, and emotionally. Jolene tackled her struggles daily, and when clouds formed, she never gave up on the sun. She lived in a way we all should strive to replicate- with no sense of time. Her condition did not define her; she defined it. Slowing down was never an option for Jolene; she was always on the go, and it never really mattered what she was doing; she just wanted to be with her family, making them smile.

She taught us how to regard family.

Even in her darkest hour, she was still our brightest light.

Jo cherished her family above all else. She proved daily that there wasn’t a thing that she wouldn’t do for the people that she loved, especially her children. HPV Tests showed us that.

She taught us how to love eternally. Jo was one of six beautiful sisters. Six sisters that come together to celebrate, to learn, to teach, to grow, to assist, to counsel, and now to grieve. Six reliable sisters. Now that Jolene has passed and their number lessened to five, the sisters will band even tighter. They are the strongest five women I know, attributing much of that strength to what they learned from Jo. She was always the rock and helped hold them up during her time here on Earth, and I do not doubt that she will continue to do the same now, only from the realms of heaven. HPV tests via Jolene passed in the comfort of knowing she was leaving these five amazing individuals behind: Debbie, Janet, Jill, Missy, and Melanie.

More than anything, she loved to travel with her family. She was continuously plotting our next outing a year in advance. Having the privilege to travel with Jolene made each trip an experience of a lifetime, just because you could see how much time she put into ensuring that everyone on the getaway had a great time but one they would never forget. She also liked to travel in the car, no matter where it was. She liked to be on the road, just going.

Jolene was always in motion.

For her kids, family, friends, co-workers, and people she sometimes didn’t even know that she had STD HPV Cancer. She loved to do that, and that will never change. She’ll continue to go, the single difference being her means of transportation. She has traded in her Saturn Outlook for a beautiful pair of wings. Nothing can stand in Jo’s way—peacefully into His loving arms.