I was 27 and pregnant with my first child. I had never had an abnormal pap in my life. I went for a pap at the start of my pregnancy and was told that I had a polyp on my cervix, which was about 1cm big. My pap test came back normal and so I didn^t think anything about it, when I started bleeding I assumed that I was miscarrying - but an ultrasound said everything was okay. When I was 17 weeks pregnant I ended up in hospital as I was hemorrhaging. I was examined and told that my polyp was now 4cm long. I stopped bleeding and didn^t want the polyp removed in case it caused me to have a miscarriage. When I was 23 weeks pregnant I hemorrhaged again. At this point my doctors told me that they had to remove the polyp because I was bleeding too much. They removed a 10cm mass. At this point we thought it was a fibroid because it was hard. I was just excited that everything was okay with my pregnancy and I wouldn^t bleed anymore. Then I got the call to say that my ^polyp^ was actually a tumor - I had stage 1b2 cervical cancer. I had a c-section and radical hysterectomy at 34 weeks of pregnancy, and they found the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. My surgeon performed ovarian transposition to try and save my ovaries, but during the chemo/radiation they got damaged and I am now post-menopausal.
I am now 2 years cancer free, and the message that I would like to tell people is that pap tests have a 10% false negative rate (say that everything is okay when its not). The best way to prevent cervical cancer is to combine regular pap tests with vaccination. Get your daughter vaccinated at age 9. Get yourself vaccinated - even if your insurance does not cover it. Tell your sisters and your girlfriends. Get your son vaccinated - HPV is spread by men! Even if you already have HPV get vaccinated - you may not have the strain that the vaccine protects against and then you protect yourself from getting those strains too. Being vaccinated does not mean that you are sexually promiscuous - it means that you are smart!