How my story begins: January 2016 is when my story began. I was having a lot of symptoms that at the time I had no idea were related to my later diagnosis of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) III, vulval intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN) III, and anal intraepithelial neoplasia (AIN) III. I had such a busy lifestyle and felt like I didn’t have time to go to the doctor. Looking back, I had symptoms that started in 2013 that I ignored because I didn’t want to admit something was wrong.
In 2016, I finally went in to my OBGYN and had a Pap test, a rectal exam as well as biopsies which came back as CIN III. I was referred to a gynecology oncologist, who eventually diagnosed me with VIN. My colorectal surgeon diagnosed me with AIN.
My CIN diagnosis took a back seat to the other problems I was having from the vulvar and anal dysplasia. I went on to have a little over two years of back-to-back surgeries, including multiple laser surgeries, a vulvectomy, anal surgery as well as cone biopsies and repeat paps to keep an eye on the cervical dysplasia.
I am now in need of a LEEP, but due to COVID, I haven’t had this done yet. We have also talked about a hysterectomy but as of right now I’m unsure about going forward with that treatment.
Life before my diagnosis: Before my diagnosis, I was working full time and I was active in my kid’s schools and with my friend group. I felt like my life was going well and I was hopeful for the path I was on.
How I felt after diagnosis: I felt so hopeless after my initial diagnosis and I spent days in bed crying and ignoring my family. I knew I was in for a lot of procedures and surgeries and that terrified me.
I eventually realized that I couldn’t go on for years feeling like this and I was able to see the positivity in things. I tried to stay as positive as possible and upbeat at appointments and surgeries and this gave me hope that I would be okay.
Telling my family and friends: Telling my husband was the hardest. We were scared of the unknown as well as the financial burden it would put on our family with medical bills and the loss of work while recovering from surgeries.
My treatment: I have had multiple cone biopsies and I was told I need to have a LEEP and we have discussed a hysterectomy as well.
Where I am today: Today I am still having regular paps and exams to monitor changes in my cervix as well as still struggling with the reoccurring growths from vulvar and anal dysplasia.
What I want other women to know: I want other women to know that we should listen to our bodies, even if we are scared. I also want them to know there is no shame in having HPV, cervical cancer, vulvar cancer, anal cancer or any of the other things women's bodies go through. We don’t have to be ashamed and we should educate each other so we can end the stigma around cancers caused by HPV.