When I realized something was wrong: When I hadn’t received my recent check-up test results in the mail, I called my gynecologist and discovered that my routine Pap smear was abnormal. Over the next 4 months, I had follow-up tests but everything came back clear. I finally asked for an HPV test (which was not the standard of care at the time) and the results came back positive for high-risk HPV. I was then referred to a gynecological oncologist.
My treatment: Surgeries to remove my tumor, most of my cervix, and pelvic lymph nodes.
How I feel about the changes: The loss of fertility doesn’t mean that I can’t have a family…but it does mean that an option was taken from me, aggressively and without warning.
What I was most shocked by: The lack of peer support and cervical cancer resources in my local community when I was first diagnosed. I felt so alone as I was going through treatment, no matter how many loving people were actually around me. I needed to know that there was someone else out there who understood what it meant to have a gynecological cancer.
My personal health mission: To help local women in the Pacific Northwest facing the tough questions around HPV and cervical health. Through this journey and my belief in the power of philanthropy and personal outreach, I now speak to the media, local groups, and individuals to empower change in HPV cancer awareness and action.