By Natima

Experiencing multiple rapes and many HPV Tests, beginning at the tender age of nine, I struggled with STD exams and my attempts to differentiate the act of sex from the meaning of love. Like a lot of rape victims, I initially blamed myself for the action of the rapists, had low self-esteem, and later became quite pro-.

At 17 years of age, I became a mother and thus filled the self-love void with the love of my newborn baby. Less than two years after the birth of my newborn, my son had a stepdad. Two years later, I was single again, but not for long.

This new guy seemed to be the perfect description of what a woman looks for in a good man, that is, until months later when he shared his STD with me. He was ashamed to admit he was living with a sexually transmitted disease. He continued to “live his STD-prone life” and, like many men his age, preferred sexual intercourse without the use of condoms. His view of me changed once I accepted his explanation as to how I could have gotten this STD during our relationship, and so he began calling me “stupid” and “dumb.” I wish I could tell you that my journey of bad relationships ended there.

Vicious circle

Eventually, I discovered that I was living a pattern and that no matter my ending with previous relationships, I picked up a new abuse pattern at the beginning of the next. I also learned that I had an HPV Cancer Virus and was at risk for cervical cancer. Somewhere along this destructive path, I adopted the belief that “if a man accepts me as I am and says that he loves me, surely it is true love.” For a short while, I, too, was ashamed of the STD I carried and afraid of who wouldn’t accept me. I realized that there was nothing I could do about the STD Tests and that I needed to focus more on accepting myself.

When and how did I rise from the victim’s path and onto the road of victory? I watched HPV cervical cancer age and kill the body of one of my peers. From then on, I was determined that her death would not be in vain. I decided that no one else’s love for me was enough, not even that of my son. This did not happen overnight; thus, I began a healing journey.

No matter how lonely or deep the connection, I had to learn to love myself first.

Letting go

Years ago, I began to tell it to myself regardless of whether I felt it. I spoke it into existence and started following up my affirmations with actions, one behaviour pattern at a time. I stopped being an STD Panel victim and accepted my role in each situation. Once I realized and accepted that I chose to be in situations and relationships that were hazardous to my mind, body and spirit, I felt free to let go. I changed my thoughts and standards and left, even when it hurt to say goodbye.

With the changing of my standards, I also learned to stop pretending I was in relationships with those who were not in relationships with me. I ceased giving more into a situation than I was receiving. I made better choices for my body, mind and spiritual self. Then, I married a man totally in love with me and my demanding self. The best news of all: My STD doctor advised that I was no longer at risk for cervical cancer.


By Karen

Your inner core gets tested for HPV. I don’t mean body parts because I’m missing many of those. I mean, who you are. What makes you tick, what makes you, you.

I didn’t cry until six months after my radical hysterectomy for stage 1b HPV cervical cancer. Honestly, I don’t recall being frightened that I could die. I knew that I’d be all right.

Different, but all right.

I do know that I was exceptionally lucky with my early diagnosis at age 44. My annual Pap smear was damaged in transit to the laboratory, so I griped and moaned but went back in for a second time. And this time, when the sample was drawn, I started to bleed, which is something that had never happened. It struck me as odd, but I didn’t worry.

I worry more about bad things happening to the people I love. I was 26 when I lost my father after a courageous but terrible battle with stomach cancer. When he was diagnosed, my mind whirled like broken film on a movie reel. I felt helpless and was horrified that I could not help him. Each day of that journey was an exercise in compromise.

Getting *that* phone call

Then the call came. You know, the “you have cancer” call.

I must have an internal switch with a lot of insulation because I slept pretty well after being diagnosed. My family laughs a lot about serious stuff. It’s wrong, but we make jokes to ease the stress. When my cool gynecologic HPV oncologist introduced himself and asked how I was with my tests, I replied by introducing myself and sharing that my mother had died just weeks before, and “Other than this stupid cancer, I’m fine.” He put his hands on his lap, laughed, and said, “Oh, you’re going to be one of those.” I knew I had found an ally.

And I did have allies. My sisters Mary Anne and Christine, tons of friends, my best friend Bob and my medical team. They were just great.

SO SIX months after my STD tumour surgery, I was hurting. I mean, my lower guts hurt, and I had mentally had enough. Sobbing into the phone, I said to one of my doctors, “Well, it took six months, but you have finally made me cry.” It felt good to cry. To finally let it out. Medication now makes my guts feel better. I make me feel better.

Five years later, the HPV Cancer medical test team has become my friend. We laugh about a lot of things. My in-your-face approach forced them to treat me as a person, not simply a patient. I’ve often told them, “I couldn’t have done it without you.” You’ll find your allies. You’ll beat this disease; don’t let it beat you.

Scars and alto celebrate what makes you tell people and that you love them. Avoid idiots. Life is full of them. You’ll make it. I did. Early detection saves lives. Save yours.

PAP Exams

An HPV Pap test is an exam to find abnormal cell changes on the cervix (cervical dysplasia) before they have a chance to turn into cancer. A small brush or cotton-tipped application of a cervical CE sample is examined for abnormal cell changes. Experts recommend that Pap tests begin no earlier than age 21.


Being vaccinated against HPV makes it much less likely a woman will develop cervical cancer or have precancerous cervical cell changes. HPV vaccines don’t protect against all types of variants, though, so women need to continue having Pap STD checks. And, as appropriate, HPV checks even after being vaccinated.