Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Recently, I shared with you City of Hope, in my "I'm All In - City of Hope" post. What I didn't share with you in that post, but knew that I would before the end of this blog tour, was my personal story.
As part of this blog tour, we were either supposed to share a video of an interview we did with someone at BlogHer or an interview of someone that we did in text format.
I decided to share my personal story. It's going to be difficult to write this, but hopefully by doing so, I can prevent someone else from going through what I did.
When I was younger, I wasn't necessarily promiscuous but I wasn't exactly careful either. I guess that's why I got pregnant at 16 with my first child. During my prenatal visits with that first child, my pap smear results came back "abnormal", and throughout my next five years of my life, my child-bearing years, my results were always the same. I was told that this was normal for some people, so I never questioned it - but now looking back, I wonder if I should have asked more questions. Maybe if I had pressed the issue further, could I have prevented what was to come?
I had my last child at the age of 22. When she was 2 years old, I went to the doctor for a normal gynecological exam and again, my pap smear tests came back abnormal. I can't remember exactly what happened in between that test and what I'm about to tell you, so I'll tell you as best as I can remember.
I remember getting my Pap (with a different doctor than I had ever used) and having abnormal results. I thought nothing of it and even told the doctor as much when she mentioned the results to me. She insisted that we schedule a colposcopy and while we were doing that, she did a biopsy.
It all happened so fast. Within a week from having my pap test, I was told I had Stage 3 Cervical Cancer. I was told by my doctor that it was caused by HPV, and I had known that I had had it for a few years at that point. I remember asking her, "How did I get it? Who gave this to me?" She told me it would be almost impossible to find out because most men don't get tested for it because it involves a skin graph. I actually just searched Google to see if there was a test for men to get tested for HPV yet, and according to the CDC "there is no test designed or approved to find HPV in men".
That quickly, I went from being healthy to having Stage 3 Cervical Cancer. I had Pap smears religiously every year, because when they're abnormal, it's imperative that you do so. It still brings tears to my eyes how quickly the cancer spread, and how close I was to dying at a young age.
I was only 24. I had babies. How could this happen to me?!
It still baffles me that I had no symptoms and it spread so quickly. That's why I support City of Hope and why I'm telling you my story tonight. I don't want anyone to ever go through what I went through. That's also why I posted about the Digene HPV Test tonight also. Women's health is an issue close to my heart and having gone through this was an eye-opening experience. It was scary but I am also blessed because this story could have had an alternate ending.
I still have to get tested every year, but it's nothing different than what I was doing. I fear that the cancer could return, but I have to keep living. I can't let it consume me. I'm doing my part by getting tested regularly and I hope, by sharing my story with you here today.
As I stated in my HPV post, be proactive. You are your best advocate. Pay attention to your body. Take care of yourself.
Because no one else will.
Disclaimer: I wrote this review while participating in a blogger campaign by Mom Central on behalf of City of Hope and received a $30 Sephora gift card and a $30 donation in my name to City of Hope to facilitate my review.