Age at diagnosis: 21

Diagnosis: HPV

How my story begins: My story begins in 2011. My daughter had just turned one and I went for my Pap smear. My test came back as abnormal and I was HPV positive. So I went for a biopsy and then I was told I had cells that needed to be removed. I had my LEEP done in February 2011. The next month, I found out I was pregnant. Life went on as normal other then I still had HPV and I had abnormal cells again, but my doctor didn’t do anything about it because my biopsy came back clean.

In September 2017, I went for my 8 week check up with baby number 5. Same thing happened - I had abnormal cells. I asked the doctor if my HPV was still there and he said yes. So he sent for a biopsy and he told me my cells came back moderate to severe. But we wouldn’t do another LEEP until after I had the baby. In March 2018, I gave birth to a baby girl. I went to my 6 week checkup post-baby and they said they would wait until August to do my follow-up Pap smear. August came and I finally got my period after giving birth, but this time it was different. It was shorter but heavier. I had spotting after having sex and some pains. I am also having watery discharge, which I have never had this bad. I just thought hormones were causing it.

I had my appointment on September 10, 2018. I let my doctor (she wasn’t my usual ob/gyn) know what was going on. When the doctor was doing my Pap smear, she informed me she saw a spot on my cervix. I would have my results in a week. I am still waiting for the results but I already know another biopsy is in my future. So I guess you can say I am in limbo.

How I felt after diagnosis: Life after finding out about my HPV and precancerous cells has been lonely. I don’t know how to explain to my friends and family about the fear I face daily knowing I have something that could turn into cancer at anytime.

When I had my first LEEP, I really didn’t understand everything. I was just going along with whatever the doctor said. But now that I am going to have another LEEP, my new doctor sat me down and explained everything to me. I feel scared, lonely, and confused. I was told one LEEP would do it and my HPV would eventually go away. But it hasn’t left my body. And I think that’s where my fear comes from.

Telling my family and friends: Telling my husband the second time was hard. We knew more this time and we knew what it could mean. My mom and my close friends understand my fears, but don’t really understand the seriousness of it either.

My treatment: LEEP 2011, multiple biopsies. Another LEEP is in my future, unless my biopsy shows cancer cells instead of precancerous cells.

How I felt after treatment: I felt fine after my first LEEP. This time, I have a feeling things will be different.

What was most difficult for me: The waiting was the most difficult for me. Waiting for my yearly. Waiting for the Pap smear results, then the biopsy results. Knowing my HPV is still there. The fear is not if I get cancer but when I get cancer.

What I did to help myself: Therapy and just being open about it to everyone around me. I am not shy about my HPV or what I am going through.

Where I am today: I am a busy mom of 5 beautiful kids and still married to the love of my life for the last 9 years.

What I want other women to know: You don’t have to be ashamed for having HPV. Tell your story!! Educate others to get tested. I tell my friends the signs to watch out for. When in doubt, go get checked out.

How I will try to help others: I will share my story with anyone and advocate the importance of getting a Pap smear and getting tested for HPV.