How my story begins: I had been through some tough years. I had gotten divorced, was in a failed relationship, but eventually I remarried and was busy building a new life with my husband and my two children from my first marriage.
I've always had regular Pap smears and they've always come back as normal. In April 2015, I went in for my routine pap, but since I turned 30, I also had an HPV test. I was devastated when I was told it was positive.
How I felt after diagnosis: I felt ashamed. I felt dirty. How could I get HPV? I was always careful, never slept around. I was full of wrong stereotypes involving HPV. I became depressed, sad, and lost interest in a lot of things.
After I tested positive the second time, my doctor recommended a colposcopy. Although I was nervous, I understood it was necessary. A biopsy was taken.
Telling my family and friends: The first person I told was my husband. He was very understanding, and always let me voice my concerns. And he brought me comfort. I told my mom who I dreaded telling, but who ultimately understands, even though she doesn't know much about HPV.
What was most difficult for me: I had to accept and come to terms that I had HPV. But it was something that I could live with, and I had no excuse to not do all I can to try and rid my body of HPV or hope HPV would go dormant in my body.
What I did to help myself: Because of HPV, my womanly routine would become more detailed, and I had to get used to having more done than just a Pap test and HPV test. And I knew following the doctor's advice and making routine doctor's visits would be crucial.
I decided to eat better and exercise. I hope this does good to my body and helps with clearing my HPV.
Where I am today: I'm doing good. My biopsy came back normal, no changes on my cervix. But I will be following a 6 month Pap/HPV retest until told otherwise. I try to stay positive and focus on my family.
What I want other women to know: You're not alone. I have and still face worries, depression and just everyday anxiety about this virus. But I'll do all that I can to make sure it doesn't turn to cancer.
How I will try to help others: I was hesitant about vaccinating my son against HPV. But I did and I want others to know it's not about giving them permission to be sexually active. It's about helping prevent this terrible virus when they do.
Any additional information you'd like to share: Please get regular screenings and be vocal. And if a doctor treats HPV as no big deal and doesn't provide further options, please find another one.