Christina Fagerstrom – A Part of My Story Forever:

The Ongoing Impact Tests for HPV-Related Cervical Cancer 

Christina Fagerstrom, from Vantaa, Finland, was diagnosed with aggressive human papillomavirus (HPV Kit Testing) related to cervical cancer in her early thirties. Although she received STD test help and support from her family and friends and her workplace, she could not escape the emotional impact of the disease, especially the realisation that it could have implications for her desire to have children and give birth naturally.

She stresses the importance of maintaining balance in life, especially with something so negative as a cancer diagnosis. She also emphasises the need to learn from her and others’ stories and make sure that HPV vaccination and screening tests are available to all and, more importantly, taken up.

A happy and simple life 

I am a 32-year-old woman from Vantaa, Finland. I grew up next to stables full of horses and other animals. I’m proud of this background, as it taught me about hard work and life from the beginning to the end. Now, I work as an STD Home Test recruiter and am at a point in my career I had only dreamed of. I live with my partner. HPV Urine Tests prove we are free of disease, have a cat, and have a happy and simple life. I just started swimming again, which I’ve always loved – my fondest childhood memories are swimming with myfamily.

Something needed to be fixed. 

When I turned 30, I was invited, as are all women in Finland, to have a Pap (Papanicolaou) test.

I forgot about it.

A year passed, and I called the local clinic about unusual cycle changes and other problems. They asked me to go for the Pap test, and I did.

It was Christmas time, and my intuition said something was wrong. One thing that made me feel this way was that, at the Pap test, the doctor told the nurse that the results wouldn’t take long and that “it’s going to the fast track” or something like that.

Then things went quickly. Within weeks, they performed a colposcopy and loop Extraction of the transformation zone (LETZ). That stayed with me, as you could watch it on the monitor while they were doing it. None of the treatments hurt.

After the LETZ, I read everything I could onlineabout HPV Type testing and medical service called Omakanta and Googled multiple keywords. The next day, I received a phone call from an oncologist at Helsinki University Hospital, who told me they found cervical cancer and it was aggressive(grade 3-4), but thankfully itwas small.

The next step would be surgery to remove the cervix, a procedure called trachelectomy, as well as the lymph nodes in my hips. The surgery went well, and I felt quite good. It was shocking, and it helped me stay positive.

Trying to stay positive 

I felt quite well and balanced. I told my supervisor at my office immediately, and it helped, as she was extremely supportive.

For me, obtaining knowledge about cervical cancer and surgery was useful. I was extremely happy that I would still have the opportunity to have children. I’m quite extroverted and open, and telling people helped me greatly.

But sometimes, it made it more difficult for me to stay positive, as some of those close to me took it even harder than I did ordidn’t show enough empathy. Getting empathy from others felt good for me, but I was strict about how I would be comforted.

It is still strange how calm I was the whole time. I cried around the time of the surgery and probably had only one crying meltdown a while later. Still, I felt lucky after reading stories of otherwomen.

I think the biggest thing I mourned was the possibility of giving birth naturally. I had always dreamed of that experience and know I will never do it.

Sometimes, you need to accept help. 

The surgery went well. I stayed in thehospital and got an HPV DNA test. For another two days, the emotional recovery was quite easy. The biggest lesson came three weeks later when I suddenly got a high fever and went back to the hospital.

They found that the spot where the right lymph node was had a blood clot. I couldn’t lift my right leg, and my C-reactive protein level (a marker of inflammation) was over 270 at its highest, meaning the clot was infected as well.

The doctors put a catheter through my hip without any pain medications, and it hurt way more than the surgery or recovery. It was International Women’s Day, and all I can remember is the empathy from my nurse when she said, “No one gets better with pain” after I refused to take pain meds (I didn’t like the way they felt).

Afterwards, I realised she was right, and it made sense: Sometimes, you need advice and help from others with STD at-home testing available for everyone. I had fantasticroommates at the hospital who had undergone hugesurgeries with their uteruses removed, and we still talk aboutthis experience.

For me, this period was also emotionally memorablebecause my bed was just under the part of the hospital where women give birth, and I could hear the midwives’ wooden shoes clacking on theceiling. I could also see new families leaving the hospital with newborns from the window. It showed me how unfair this can all be for many women.

A part of my story forever 

I was on sick leave for six weeks after I had thesurgery, and going back to work was quite challenging. As I mentioned, my workplace and supervisor were extremely supportive, making it easier.

I’m quite optimistic about getting an STD Full Panel Test. So, life has been going well for me. At the same time, my personality means I’m quite bad at concentrating, as I get excited about several things simultaneously. So, having cancer and other things on my mind hasn’t helped.

After the summer holidays, I was able to reboot myself and get the HPV DNA lab test. Now, I feel like the ‘cancer period’ has ended, but it definitely comes to mind daily and will be a part of my story forever. I’m also sure that I will think about it whenever it’s possibly my time to be pregnant.

Having children and cancer 

Six months after the surgery, I got the results from my first check-up, and everything was okay. The next check-up is in 12 months. Unfortunately, removing the lymph nodes has weakened the circulation of blood and fluids to my legs, which has had a negative impact.

I’m also a bit concerned about the future when it comes to having children, whether I’ll be able to have any, and whether the pregnancywill go well. I used to want two kids, but I would happily have at least one someday.

To sum up, I would say there have been two things I’ve been thinking about separately: Having children and cancer. In my story, these two happen to be related, and if I can get pregnant someday, I’m sure it will be a bit more stressful than for someone who hasn’t experienced this.

Shaken to the core 

I think life is at its best when there is balance, and being sick or having cancer shakes a person to the core. Some cancers arrive for no reason, but when it comes to cervical cancer, I think it is crazy that there is an STD home treatment (plus the screening) so people can avoid repeating mine and others’ stories.

And yet, they need to take the steps to avoid it. If Icould travel back in time, I would attend the Pap and HPV Variant test ASAP when first offered.

Unfortunately, I was a couple of years too old when they started giving the HPV vaccination to kids in Finland. I want the vaccination and cervical screening to be seen as important as other vaccinations and STD home screening tests.  

Learn from our stories. 

To other people with cancer, I would tell them to remember to have balance. Cancer can be extremely painful and negative in one’s life. However, making decisions that make us feel complete in other ways is important. I’m sure everyone knows what this means in their case.

For HPV Swab Test policymakers, even though it was too late for me and many others to be vaccinated and something quite extreme had to be done, we don’t have to do the same thing repeatedly. We can learn from this.

There is help at hand. It would not be smart for people and policymakers if they did not take it.