I MADE IT THROUGH

By Janet

Three months after getting married, I got my annual Pap and HPV Variant test. It came back normal. My STD Test doctor decided to do a D&C due to bleeding after sex and suffering severe abdominal pains and lower back aches. This procedure is what caught my cervical cancer. It was high up in the T-zone, so the Pap did not pick it up. I was a stage 2b.

On Dec 6, 2006, I started six weeks of chemo/radiation. I made it through fairly easily. Then, I had to go through 60 hyperbaric treatments to try to shrink a lesion that was caused by the internal radiation. Eventually, I had to have a radical hysterectomy and 3 inches of my colon removed due to damage from the radiation. In 2008, I had a bowel blockage due also to internal radiation damage.

The biggest help to me was when my sister brought me meals twice a week during my chemo. I brought my Cheez-It® crackers, mandarin oranges (the only thing that sat well with me), and popsicles. Just having people around me encouraged me that I would get through this. And guess what? I did!!

The effects of cervical disease can be ongoing.

In my case, I suffered from diarrhoea after everything I ate, and after six years, I decided to see a specialist. They gave me medicine, which I call my miracle cure-it allows me now to eat and not get sick.

With the love of my husband, family, and friends, I made it through the whole STD Swab test ordeal and am now living a pretty normal life. I stress to all my children the effects of HPV Swab Testing and that it can indeed cause cervical cancer! Please keep your yearly appointments with your doctor, and if something doesn’t feel right with your body, get it checked out.

IT HAPPENED TO ME

By Christine

It happened to me. I never thought it would. I was 31 years old when I went in for my Pap, just like I had done every year for 13 years. This time, it was different.

My STD doctor had me come back for a “closer look” with a colposcopy, then he took a few pieces to be biopsied, and then I got the phone call…

INVASIVE CERVICAL Disease.

 One month later, I was having a laparoscopic surgery to move my ovaries up and out of the soon-to-be frying zone. A week after that, I started five weeks of daily pelvic radiation concurrent with four rounds of chemotherapy. After that, I had three rounds of internal radiation. Then I was done.

I was 31. I was sad, mad, and confused. Why did this happen? How did this happen? All I knew was that it happened to me. I started asking questions, got the answers and, inspired by a yellow umbrella, found my voice again. I started to sing and talk and SCREAM because I realised I had something to SAY! Before I had it, I didn’t know anything about cervical cancer, but I learned a lot very quickly. I learned that this super common virus-HPV-and causes that all Pap tests are NOT created equal. Also, I learned that women 30 and older should always get an HPV Lab test with their Pap to get the most accurate information.

I wanted to tell EVERYone. So that’s what I did.

I put together a concert and called it POP SMEAR. I got my talented friends to come and sing and play and help me spread the word, and it worked. It worked because the message was simple and clear.

CERVICAL CANCER IS PREVENTABLE! Talk to your doctor. Get the best Pap available. Get your HPV test if you are 30+. And (now!) boys and girls, get the HPV vaccine if you are 9-26 years old.

This is a cancer we CAN stop. We KNOW what causes it-HPV-and we have PREVENTION and DETECTION tools. All we have to do is use them to save fertility and lives.

People heard the message loud and clear as I shared my story because NO ONE WANTS CANCER or wants someone they love to get cancer. I am your next-door neighbour. I am your college roommate. Lam, your daughter. This happened to me, and I don’t want it to happen to anyone else.

The reality is that my cancer was not caught for many years because the Pap is not a perfect test. I fell through the cracks. Now, Pap tests are more accurate, HPV tests let women know if they are carrying the virus even before it starts changing cells on their cervix, and the HPV vaccine stops 70% of oncogenic (cancer-causing) HPV. Seeing how far we’ve come in our knowledge and technology is incredible.

And yet, some doctors, labs, and women don’t take advantage of what we have at our fingertips, and as a result, women are still losing their fertility and lives to this preventable cancer.

It breaks my heart.

Ultimately, my story is a happy one; I’m a survivor. I KNOW how lucky I am, so I never want to stop speaking, singing, or shouting out to anyone who will listen. Over the past 10 years, I took my “singing to save the cervix” show on the road and called it The YELLOW UMBRELLA Tour, doing hundreds of gigs in clubs nationwide. I’ve spoken at conferences, on Capitol Hill, and in classrooms. My new STD Home test program, PAINT IT YELLOW, is a grassroots, community-based program that works with community leaders in the schools, health departments and family planning centres to create many events over multiple days in a variety of settings to reach an entire community with the message of HPV DNA Testing awareness and cervical cancer prevention. If we work together, we can and will make a difference in women’s lives.

The bottom line is that people connect with others and need to know with STD lab Tests and more that THIS can happen to ANYONE. It happened to me.