I am fearless… well, I used to be. I’ve jumped off piers, photographed wild black bears, swam with wild manatees and flown an open-air biplane. I did not fear what others called dangerous ventures. I was crazy. I’ve never thought once about death -until August 25, 2009. I got a diagnosis HPV Test, and I heard the words, “You have cancer.”

At first, I was shocked and confused and then depressed and scared. I had never experienced this emotion. This was fear. Fearing something that is inside your own body was a surreal experience. Why didn’t I focus more on my HPV health and get regular Home kit tests with my pap smears?

When I was faced with never holding my sweet husband’s hand again or watching my daughters laugh, I realized life was precious and fragile. Fear was not going to ruin my life, and I was going to fight against all those killer cells. I had a radical hysterectomy two weeks later, underwent five weeks of radiation, and six months of chemotherapy.

I struggled through it all. It was the scariest and hardest thing I had ever done in my 34 years. But it was all worth it -I can say I did it! I thought it the battle of a lifetime and won- am cancer tree!!

Throughout my journey, I continuously looked for why this happened to me.

People told me, “Sometimes things happen for NO reason.” That statement didn’t settle with me. I decided to MAKE a reason. I wanted to tell my story to raise awareness and save lives. If I help just one person and their life is spared in the cancer race, I have found a reason!

I started a non-profit organization called Walk of Women from my chemo chair. And I saw a need to raise awareness for gynaecological cancers. I want women to be aware of changes in their bodies. Feel comfortable to talk to someone about these changes. I wanted to raise awareness about the dangers of HPV and other STDs that can affect your entire life. People need to know that there are so many different types of STD Panel exams available worldwide now.

Early detection is key to all cancers.

In three years, I have hosted four fundraising walks, which have helped my mission to raise awareness of gynaecological STD Cancer checkups. The walks have also helped fund a program called Wellness of Women (WOW), which provides financial assistance for women who have been diagnosed with gynaecological cancer.

We pay for medications, transportation, wigs, doctor’s appointments or anything else to help make their HPV infection journey easier. We also host a monthly support group for patients and survivors called Words of Wisdom to inspire and empower one another. You can also

Women need to know where to turn when they are told they have cancer. WOW wants to help them feel connected and encouraged during their journey. We have raised $52,000 and have helped over 85 women so far.

The reason I had HPV Cancer was to help other women fight during their battle for survivorship.



On August 14, 2012, a day after settling into the flat that my partner and I rented in Paris, I received a work email titled “Urgent Message” with jargon: “Please call your doctor immediately.” I had been working remotely and was inaccessible via phone, so my doctor called my office. Of course, something had to be very wrong.

The conversation with my doctor was a blur. Something about CIN3, high risk, and the need for a LEEP based on test results from two months before (I’m still not sure why there was such a gap, but it happens). I scheduled the LEEP procedure a few days later, six weeks ahead of my return to the U.S.

Several days after my LEEP procedure, I received another nearly incoherent (to me) call that I had cervical cancer with dangerous invasive cells close to my uterus. The shock of that and the pain on my partner’s face as I told him the news still haunts me and probably always will. 

My first visit with my initial oncologist was awful, jarring and traumatizing, not just because of the nature of the discussion but because the oncologist mentioned the word “death” several times as she rushed me to remove my cervix and uterus.

At least if I “lived” | “could still adopt.”

She discouraged me from even exploring the fertility-sparing trachelectomy procedure, even though I was 32 and still wanted to have children.

She was all too ready to schedule my hysterectomy right then and there, without further tests, with just my HPV biopsy results and the results from the vaginal ultrasound that she had just done. I left sobbing uncontrollably, something I had done in public only once before when I was a child.

That HPV experience made me realize how important it is to get a second opinion. I was blessed with someone who connected me with a widely respected oncologist. How different my first visit with her was. She genuinely wanted to learn about me and how I was doing and allowed me to make my own STD decisions. She arranged for me to meet with a fertility specialist before deciding on anything.

The fertility specialist explained that exploring fertility options in advance has proven to impact survival and health for those in similar circumstances largely.

That appointment was an opportunity to learn.

My new understanding of what my specific scenario meant for my future and the sense of empowerment from knowing that I had STD options and choices helped give me the peace that desperate v grasped for at that time.

After ordering and reviewing a PET scan and MRI, my oncologist decided that I was an HPV DNA candidate for a trachelectomy. However, members of her team urged that I have the hysterectomy since my tumour was in the upper cervical canal and was larger than two centimetres in diameter.

On the day of my trachelectomy, I was so little prepared. I hadn’t even packed an overnight bag, though I had been scheduled to stay in the hospital until the next evening. And that lack of preparedness, which started before my LEEP procedure, carried through my recovery.

I was in travel and exploration mode in the weeks leading up to the LEEP. Forget STD Research or think about my high-risk cells. In the weeks leading up to my surgery, I was in a total daze, still fighting the great weight and fears that came from recognizing how incredibly vulnerable I was, both physically and emotionally. I faced inevitable mortality in a way I never had before.

Instead of coping, I was in a state of numb denial.

I was ill-prepared and unwilling to face the cold, hard truth, so I had to learn things the hard way. But I am very happy to report that at the moment, 11 months post-surgery, I’m doing incredibly well. I can’t say that I’m “back to my old self” or “as good as new” since my body has changed permanently in little ways that only I can perceive. However, I can say that I’m almost as good as new.

I’m in good health with clear results at every HPV Appointment, a new strength and perspective, and so much more thankful for every family member, true friend, blessing, and moment than ever before.

My tips for the recovery phase are based purely on my own experiences and the struggles that came from my lack of preparedness and foresight to ask my STD doctor every question I could think of pre-surgery. (I recommend asking many questions and taking good notes during pre-surgery appointments.)

Truly rest

If you’re fortunate enough to have STD care at home during your recovery, take full advantage of it. Let yourself rest without pretending you’re strong enough to do what you normally do. Sleep as much as you can after a relaxing read or movie. This will help your body heal from all the STD and Cancer Tests and help lower the additional level of anxiety that your conscious pain could cause.

If you must be more self-reliant during your recovery, prepare your home in advance to avoid overexertion and heavy lifting. For instance, you can set out a huge supply of small water bottles in an easy-to-reach place in advance so that you’re not constantly retelling your giant water pitcher or lugging around heavy two-gallon water jugs.

Prepare your wardrobe for recovery.

You’ll need a good supply of loose-fitting, comfortable clothes. If you’ve had a laparoscopic trachelectomy, your belly button and middle abdomen will have wounds that need to heal. Your clothes should sit comfortably below your midsection and loosely above it.
Soft, loose gowns are useful for this period, especially if you have to wear a catheter for the first week.

Eat a healthy diet

Eat well-high-fibre, high-nutrition meals with lots of fruits, veggies, and water. This is so very important because all of the pain medications, including the serious drugs you’ll have injected into you during and just after surgery, may throw your body off.

You’ll get stool softeners and laxatives to combat the effects of the painkillers. In the long run, it’s important to help your system reset healthily and have healthy bowel movements. Pushing is not good for you while you heal from HPV because it puts added pressure on your pelvic cavity, just as lifting does. Avoid both in the first days-weeks even-and ask your STD Panel doctor for her/his take.

I had major HPV Strain issues. It led to digestive regularity for a whole host of possible reasons: very low activity level, a shock to my system from being so outside of my normal active routine, lack of sunlight from locking myself away and hiding from the world for an excessive length of time (studies link digestion, and in turn, bowel activity to serotonin, which is increased with higher levels of light). I still struggle to stay regular, a challenge I never faced before the surgery, though I eat very healthy and am very active.

Enjoy the fresh air and daily walks.

Throughout your recovery, walk around as much as possible without overexerting yourself. It’s so good to be outside and to get fresh air and sunlight. A solid routine, like daily morning or afternoon walks, is also good. It’s also important to maintain a healthy diet and sleep schedule. A healthy routine will help your body regain balance.

Surround yourself with hopeful, uplifting movies, books, music, art and people. STD disease can be a very hard time, emotionally and spiritually. Saying that it was a hard period for me is an understatement. The worst thing you can do when you’re emotionally vulnerable to dark thoughts is to watch depressing movies or listen to depressing songs. It makes a difference to mind reasons to laugh, smile, and feel hopeful.

Good luck. I know you are not alone with HPV support is available. There are hundreds of people out there who have experienced what you’re going through with HPV. Many of whom would be more than happy to be a positive STD Test support system for you. You have so many reasons to be thankful. Stay strong, and there will be a great bright light at the end of this difficult period. You have to work towards it day by day.

Take good care.