Survivors

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  • The firs time I had heard the term \"HPV\" was the day I had my first abnormal PAP result in April of 2005. That was over three years ago and unfortnuately I have come to know HPV very well. I was 24 years old...healthy, nonsmoker, non-drinker who never engaged in \^risky\^ behavior. I went in for a routine well-woman visit. A week later, I was told that my PAP indicated mild \^changes\^ and I was positive for high risk HPV. I was referred for colposcopy as a \^precation\^ and told that, given my age and my health, my body would probably clear this on its own and that it was \^no big deal\^.

    The first colposcopy confirmed this positive information. I did have a biopsy of a \^suspicious\^ spot, but it came back benign and I was referred for a re-PAP in three months. So, besides dealing with all the stigma of having been told I had an STD, I was otherwise ok. The biopsy was not so much physically painful as it was emotionally painfully.

    Unfortunately, this was not the end for me...not even close! My three month re-PAP once again was abnormal. I went in for my second colposcopy in October of 2006. There were many more \^suspicious\^ spots. I had three biopsies done this time. Again, all of them emotionally painful. I was young, had no children and was terrified. I had been exercising, taking vitamins...doing everything I could to help my body clear this awful virus, and I felt like a failure. I discussed my situation and feelings with no one as I felt ashamed, as if I deserved this.

    The biopsies confirmed CIN II and I had a LEEP procedure done in December of 2006. This was BOTH physically and emotionally painful. I felt like someone was just carving away at the most intimate part of my body. For the first time in my life I caught a glimpse of just how dehumanizing modern medicine could be. The results of the LEEP confirmed CIN II (moderate cervical dysplasia) and I was told that the clear margins indicated that they had got it all.

    I went in for my follow up PAP in early April of 2007 feeling optimistic. I felt good! I was sure the worst was over. Unfortunately, I was wrong. The follow up PAP indicated high grade lesions (CIN II or CIN III). My doctor at the time, whome I no longer seen, reacting with a \^hmmm...that\^s interesting!\" response. Yes...\^interesting\^ was not exactly how it felt. I was devastated. I had a complete melt down. I cried for days...couldn\^t work, couldn\^t eat, couldn\^t sleep. I just couldn\^t go through this again! I was referred for my third colposcopy.

    The third colposcopy was done in May of 2007 (by a different doctor) and found nothing. I was told I had a very healthy cervix and there was no explanation for the abnormal PAP a month before. I was exhaulted!! I went from a total low to a total high. What a roller coaster!

    In June of 2007 I was married and by August I was pregnant. All throughout my pregnancy I continued to have PAPs and all were normal. I won! My ordeal was over...

    Or not...I delivered my beautiful, healthy baby girl in April of 2008. I had a wonderful, easy pregnancy and consider myself very blessed! At my delivery, the doctor noticed a suspicious spot on my outer labia which he removed \^for precaution\^. I was too distracted by my beautiful little girl to think much of it. Three weeks later I got the phone call...VIN III (high grade vulvar dysplasia) was identified in that suspicious spot. Due to my history of cervical dysplasia, I was referred for my fourth complete (internal and external) colposcopy.

    In June of 2008 I had the fourth colposcopy, which was negative. No biospies, no nothing. The dr. explained that my immune system was low during pregancy, allowing the virus to resurge and cause problems. Now that I was no longer pregnant, he was optimistic that things would \^clear up on their own\^.

    Again, no such luck. In September of 2008, I had another PAP. It was abnormal, and just this week I had my fifth colposcopy with biopsy. I am now awaiting the results. The dr. is optimistic for CIN I and no treatment for now. He wants to just \^watch and wait\^. Again, given my age and overall health status the \^statistics\^ indicate I\^m a good candidate for spontanious recovery. Unfortunately, I defied statistics a long time ago!

    This whole ordeal has caused me considerable stress, anxiety, frustration, self pity, guilt. I have only just begun to explore those feelings. It\^s hard not to be pessimistic. I have been fighting this disease for three years now...will it ever go away? Will I win or will I end up fighting a much more difficult battle with cervical cancer? The thought of hysterectomy, even if it does elimiate the risk of cancer, still makes me very sad. I started counciling recently to discuss some of these feelings. I have also added to this yoga and jogging to relax my mind. Before this all began, I was another person...a POSITIVE person who felt in control of her health and her body. Now I feel I am being invaded by disease, nasty abnormal cells...scapals and electric wires that cut away at me! I have become sad, scared and negative, feeling dirty and undesirable... A person I don\^t like! I want to be the person I use to be again. I NEED to be the person I use to be again in order to beat this thing. And I\^ll get there. I am a mother, wife, graduate student and teacher...I am many things. But I am NOT a victim! No doubt, this virus is strong and persistent. But I am even stronger and more persistent. It may take years of scraps, cuts and tests results, but I\^ll come out ahead.
  • 10-30 -2008
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