Survivors

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  • Hi Christina -


    I^ve been wanting to share my story online and have read numerous boards but for some reason felt compelled to respond to your comments/concerns. I hope you will feel better after reading this :).

    I was diagnosed with HPV at the age of 21 (I^m 30 now). At the time, I had no health ins. and just had an exam at Planned Parenthood b/c I had developed a case of the outer warts (I know, ick). I had them treated with acid therapy, and never had another outbreak of them.

    Since then, I^ve been fairly regular with my Paps, and had probably at least 4 abnormal ones. I^ve had 3 successful pregnancies. My gyno from my home state (I^ve since moved) was a GREAT doctor - I told him about the HPV from the get-go when I started seeing him when I was 22 - and I feel confident (or trying to) that he would have suggested further treatment/proceedings if necessary.

    A little over a year ago, I again had no health insurance and 3 small children. I had a low-cost Pap/visit at the local health dept., and was called a few weeks later by a technician who recommended that I get a colposcopy. I^d heard the term before, and was vaguely familiar with it, but was struggling with some personal issues (severe depression being one of them!) and did not follow up. I let it go. For a YEAR.

    Fast-forward to Jan. of this year (this month). My health ins. kicked in and I immediately scheduled an appt. with a gyno. After my Pap, a phone call confirmed my fear that I was still not out of the woods (my Pap was LGSIL, which means I had some low-grade lesions on my cervix) and she recommended the colpo. I was freaking out so badly on the phone with her that she let me come in that same day to have it done. I could tell from her absence of chit-chat during the procedure that all was not fine and dandy in there...a biopsy was sent off and I tried to prepare myself for the interminable wait. As a (unfortunately) pessimist by nature, I was dreading the worst...invasive, incurable cervical cancer.

    The biopsy was sent off on a Friday, and the dr. had told me she\^d try to rush the results. The rest of Friday was pretty much nightmarish. I prayed that day, ALOT - if only for God to calm my mind and heart so my kids and husband would not be affected by my fears in the meantime. My husband told me that the next day would be better, (and it WAS), and that I\^d probably get scared again the night before I was supposed to find out. By the way - God did answer my prayer positively, and I was able to keep it together.....until.....

    Monday night for some reason, I was having a terrible time getting to sleep, and my fears were attacking again. The following morning was even worse. I was a bundle of nervous energy and I probably got 3 loads of laundry and a ton of cleaning done in between taking care of my two toddlers. I checked my phone every 5 min. At one point, I saw I^d missed a call and went straight to check the voicemail. It was my dr. and you should have HEARD her tone as she spoke. The best way I can describe it is despondent/sad/pitying. My heart DROPPED.

    Immediately I called the office, and of course, she was with a patient. My next 15 minutes were simply spent undergoing one horribly long panic attack. I called my husband first, my best friend, and my mom. What I remember mostly saying over and over is, "She sounded BAD, mom - she sounded really bad." And she did - she certainly did.

    During my conversation with my best friend, the dr. called and when I clicked over, I heard some news that sounded fantastic to my ears: I had mild dysplasia. From what I^ve gathered online and through my dr. is that dysplasia is cells which have changed and are technically precancerous. However, in the majority of women who do have mild dysplasia, the condition resolves itself with NO treatment in up to 2 years. In my case, I\^d already been suggested a colpo over a year ago, so my dr. decided to go ahead and treat mine with TCA - the same type of acid, actually, which was used when I had the outer outbreak years before.

    I guess I^ve gone into such detail b/c I^ve been GREATLY helped and reassured by the detailed stories of other women on these boards who are facing/battling/beating this cervical cancer stuff. The most helpful thing my best friend said to me on the phone that day while I waited for news that I was sure to be horrible was this: "You know what - say it is what you think it is. It^s cancer. Who knows what stage it^s in and what they can do to treat it?"...etc. That question combined with the stories online of women who^ve been much further down the cervical cancer road than I have, has done alot to bolster my spirits about this.

    I now know that I have one of the higher risk HPV types. So I\^m loading up on dark leafy greens, and starting on some multivitamins with folic acid. There\^s not much more we can do, except avoid smoking and just generally try to live a healthy lifestyle and avoid stress.

    I just encourage you to stay vigilant with your Paps. If it^s any consolation, I^ve had many friends/acquaintances come out of the woodwork as I^ve shared my very recent experience who have told me that they were in the same boat as I am, and after their treatment, their Paps resumed normal. I^m praying that^s the case with me (I won^t know for about 6-8 wks as I just had the TCA procedure done last Fri.). If it isn^t though, at least I have the wisdom and experience of all the women who^ve gone before and been so kind and vulnerable as to share their stories with us. For a hypochondriac and biologically-based depressed person such as me, those testaments have been a Godsend.

    I hope that everything works out for you. I don^t think HPV is a death sentence. At least you know and can stay on top fo it. As a nurse told me a few days ago, many people never know they have it, or only find out after waiting years to get checked and by then it^s too late.

    One more quick thing (I know this post has been anything but quick - sorry!) - my favorite dr. who is very familiar with my struggles with anxiety and depression recommended a book for me. It^s called "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living" and it^s by Dale Carnegie. The author^s renowned for his research and publications aimed at improving businesses, but I think this was a little foray of his into more of a personal psychology book. Anyway, I just picked up the book today and have yet to read it but I trust this dr. implicitly (a HUGE deal for me) and I^m thinking/hoping I^ll find some tips to help me through this struggle. Just a thought if you or anyone else reading this happens to be a reader. :)
  • 01-29 -2012
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