I want to share my story of how I became a cancer survivor. 20 yrs ago at the age of 18 I began having abnormal PAPs, I was treated with conization and cryosurgery. That seemed to solve my problems. And I went on to have 2 children, (something the medical professionals told me I would never be able to do). After 1996 I stopped having my PAPs. I had 2 significantly disabled children, put myself through college, and working full time. Between all that, I had no time for myself.
Fast forward to 2007. Having been perfectly healthy all these years something told me to have my PAP test in 2007. (I think it was all those Guardasil commercials running every commecerial break that knocked some sense into me). Well, I had NO SYMPTOMS, periods PERFECTLY NORMAL, NO PAIN, NO DISCHARGE OF ANY KIND. Well my PAP came back High Grade Dysplasia, I was sent to a gyno. Who upon preparing to do a colposcopy saw a growth in my vagina. Fast forward through the testing, plain and simple.........I HAD PRIMARY VAGINAL CANCER. This is very rare in a woman my age, only found in the elderly, but as my oncologist told me given the timeline with my cervical dysplasia issues 20 yrs ago, it fits the time frame for vaginal cancer to develop. It is believed my vaginal cancer is related to the cervical issues years ago. I wasn\^t able to have surgery due to where the tumor was located, and quite frankly, I wanted to keep my vagina and not have a new one reconstructed. So I had chemo and external radiation along with brachytherapy for Stage I squamous vaginal cancer.
Treatment was doable and I am here today. It may sound odd, but I give those Guardasil commercials credit for saving my life. Had they not been running rampant on the air, I don\^t think I ever would\^ve gone to the dr. and had my cancer discovered at an early stage. Also, ladies, PLEASE if you have cervical issues and end up with hysterectomies, ALWAYS continue with your annual PAPs, as the HPV virus can effect your vagina and vulva the same way it effects the cervix causing the same cancer.
Although mine wasn\^t cervical cancer, you can clearly see how my cervical dysplasia caused my vaginal cancer. So, keep up with your annual exams ladies and just because you have a hysterectomy does not mean you should stop PAPs (many vaginal cancers develop years after hysterectomies because women believe they are done with their annual exams, that is just a word of caution)I hope my story gives hope to others that you can survive cancer.