I thought healthy People don’t Become Cancerous

By Sally

My name is Sally, and I live in Harare, Zimbabwe. I got my diagnosis of stage 26 cervical cancer in June 2012. Since I believed cancer didn’t happen to happy, healthy people,  I did not have a regular Pap test or indeed any other recommended STD tests. I had no family history of cancer, ate what I thought was healthy, only drank the occasional glass of wine and was fitter than most 60-year-old women, having run six ultra-marathons and numerous 10k-plus runs. HPV Tests are easy to get to know the truth about your status. I even ran 100- and 200-meter sprints and did an 80-meter hurdles race in May 2012. Dreams are fulfilled and then broken.

My chemo and STD treatments and radiation treatments were in Johannesburg, South Africa. The treatment was easy for the first four weeks, but on the fifth week, I fell to pieces, and it took a year plus to feel reasonably good again. I have had other traumas during the year and found everything very hard to deal with.

I have run 16K and 21K this year and a 42K progressive marathon. My advice to everyone is to stay fit and healthy so that when you get sick, whatever it is, you have the physical strength to deal with it. Learn to live in the moment because I believe nothing lasts forever. I have dealt with all the ups and downs, believing they would pass.

Get an HPV Home test and use vaccines where possible. You don’t have to go down this road.

I WISH I HAD KNOWN

By Jen

I went in for my annual exam, which was both humbling and uncomfortable. Girls are introduced to it early in life, and we learn to deal with it. Experts now say that if your Paps have been normal, you can go two or even three years between tests. I am here to tell you that I disagree with that position.

On June 20, exactly one week after my annual Pap smear, I got a frantic call from my doctor, letting me know that my Pap result was “very abnormal.” The call was abnormal because my annual Paps had been normal up to this point. I had missed a Pap in 2011 because I had my period, but that was just one missed year, so my thought was that it was probably nothing. That was the consensus of my friends as well because everyone has had an abnormal Pap, right?

I met with my 0B/GYN on June 22 for my colposcopy. I was already running worst-case scenarios in my head. She said that people don’t go from a lifetime of normal Pap and HPV DNA tests to cancer, so I shouldn’t worry and relax. So, I relaxed as much as I could with a super-powered microscope looking into my cervix. Then she said this, and I quote, “Your cervix is angry; you have a p.o’d cervix. We need to do something. Several options were discussed, but the biopsy ultimately tells the tale. When the results were in, I got the call and learned that not only was my cervix angry, I had cancer. And later, I would learn I had HPV.

My options for treatment went from many to one.

At age 44, with one child, I had a radical hysterectomy.

“Radical” means that they would remove the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes and many lymph nodes. My ovaries scanned clean, so they were saved, and I did not go into surgical menopause. Many scans and STD Panel tests led up to the surgery, but it was ultimately successful. My recovery, as hard as it was, was also successful.

1 am a mother, wife, sister, daughter and friend. I work at a job I love and volunteer at my son’s school and with his various teams and activities. I read as much as I can, talk much too much, laugh and, most importantly, survive. I’m cancer-free, and I still have the HPV virus. The HPV Lab test was used to find out that the virus was what caused my cancer. I didn’t ask about it until after doing my research. During one of my follow-up visits, I asked questions.

What kind of STD did I have? How long had I had the virus? I asked many other questions as well. Unfortunately for me, I developed cervical cancer, which is quite possibly the worst side effect of the HPV virus. I wish I had known that I had HPV and that there was something I could have done to prevent it.

STAND UP AND FIGHT AGAINST THIS

By Meghan

My name is Meghan, and I’ve struggled with HPV since I was in my early 20s. It was devastating and embarrassing to learn that I had this sexually transmitted disease. While most strands of the virus go away on their own or with little treatment, mine was one of the aggressive types that just kept recurring. I had at least eight to 10 colposcopies and two LEEP procedures to control the intermediate-stage precancerous cells over four to five years.

So, I FINALLY received my first clear Pap HPV lab Test result a couple of years ago, and I’ve had clear Paps since then. I got the miracle of good health again. I’m now married and will be delivering my first child this December!

I write this so that all the women out there who feel like they are in a place of hopelessness and helplessness will not despair but rather stand up and fight against this disease. If it weren’t for my will to overcome this condition and the care and expertise of my doctors, I would not be here today. Not only did my doctors save my life, but they also made my new family possible! Never give up hope!

I AM BLESSED TO BE ALIVE

By Mary Jo

This is not just another HPV Swab Test cancer story. My story of a personal event threw me into experiences I never dreamt of having. I had always been very active and healthy. Yet, in December 1985, I got my STD Lab Test diagnosis of invasive cervical cancer.

I went through many different emotions when I learned this, but I found the support I needed to face it. There were nervous times when I was facing medical treatments and the pain involved in these procedures. There were calm times when I was alone, especially the night before my major eight-and-a-half-hour surgery. When I reconciled myself to the necessity of this operation, I felt a powerful calmness within. The operation was the one main thing I needed to win my battle of life and death. Deep within, I did not feel I would die soon. Yet, I knew I had a disease that would eventually kill me if treatments weren’t successful.

Lastly, I felt a strange excitement because I was facing the hardest challenge of my 38-year life.

Beat death–that inevitable, yet unknown, existence.

We might say that one faces the game of winning life over death daily. Yet, when a potential terminal illness arises from a virus, confirm it with an HPV Urine Test. Then, take action and strike it, or normal life routine stops; control of one’s body is altered, and, in my case, drastic permanent physical changes were made.

Fortunately, I have a strong support system. I have only praise for my surgeons’ and their assistants’ skill and excellence. Their service to me was dedication, warmth and caring for my well-being. Also, the nurses and other staff members at Norton Hospital and the James Graham Brown Cancer Center were very caring and great contributors to my getting well. Louisville is truly fortunate to have facilities of this high calibre.

The strong physical and spiritual support of my family, friends and associates at Ursuline-Pitt School was a powerful force in my healing process. Ursuline-Pitt School, where I have taught for the past 13 years, serves children with special needs. I have become an adult with special needs, and I feel extremely blessed to know the bonds that exist among this select group of people.

Possibly, this bonding is the boundless strength of life itself, no matter what additional limits have been placed on one’s physical body. It is in this strength among positive STD People tested with varying degrees of disabilities that an outgrowth of very positive energy can flow.

It is a gift we have. Let us use it!

Update 2013: Twenty-seven years after the first article, I am lucky to be alive and a productive member of society. This medical STD and Cancer journey has often been a lonely one because of the few isolated cases of pelvic exoneration patients. Support group attempts have not been successful.

However, I have met some cervical cancer survivors, and I keep in touch with them. The creation of NCCC is a valuable resource and support system for cervical cancer patients.

In the early 1990s, I had two serious life-saving surgeries involving blocked ureters. These surgeries saved my kidneys. I travelled to Vanderbilt and Massachusetts General to have the best surgeon perform this procedure.

I’m proud to say that I have continued my mission of working with people who have STD Type Tests and developmental and intellectual disabilities. My friend, an Ursuline sister, and I, along with many others, are moving into a new school building for adults with special needs. This new one-floor facility is another dream come true for all involved in this project. These most special people inspire me to keep living and to keep dreaming.