How my story begins: When I was 26 years old and newly pregnant, I had an abnormal Pap and tested positive for HPV. I was more concerned about how it would affect my baby than my own health. But after a colposcopy, my gynecologist advised me that she didn’t see anything that would warrant further action. I breathed a sigh of relief, had a healthy baby girl seven months later, and didn’t give it much more thought.
Three years later, I began bleeding after intercourse, presenting symptoms of what I thought was bacterial vaginosis (BV). When my symptoms didn’t subside after a round of antibiotics, the nurse practitioner reminded me that I had missed my Pap a few months before and suggested that I have one that day as a convenience. When she took a look at my cervix, she turned completely white and ran for my doctor. They performed a biopsy and the next day informed me that my results showed cancerous cells.
How I felt: For me, the prospect of infertility was much more ominous than my diagnosis. My cancer was detected relatively early and I knew that it would likely be resolved with surgery alone. But I was completely overwhelmed. I had never been married and planned to have more children. I didn’t know how to process any of this at 29 years old. I cried for what seemed like an eternity. I was devastated.
My treatment: I opted to have a partial hysterectomy.
How I found hope: In the days leading up to and just after my surgery, my friends and family rallied to support me. This was just what I needed. They kept me laughing, dried my tears, held my hand, let me talk them to death, and just about everything else in between. The outpouring of love I received gave me the sense of optimism I desperately needed through my recovery process.
My life today: Almost five years later, I haven’t had any recurrence.