If you would have asked me what HPV and Cervical Cancer was 6 years ago, I wouldn't have had a clue. My first visit to the gynecologist was intended to go find out about birth control, but instead I learned that I was pregnant with my first child. I'm actually not even sure when I was told I had HPV. My doctor didn't tell me or explain to me the dangers of HPV. I actually didn't learn how serious the situation was until after my daughter my second child was born. I remember being at home and getting a call from my doctor. My husband answered the phone and he was told that I needed to make an appointment right away. When he [my husband] hung up the phone he was concerned and told me that the doctor had just told him that I had cervical cancer. I was scared; I didn't know what to think. Death never even crossed my mind.
My husband came along with me to my appointment and that's when my doctors informed me of HPV and how certain types of HPV can lead to cervical cancer. I didn't ask any questions. As soon as I heard the words "STD," I got scared. Those three letters scared me more than the word "cancer." All I could think was, what was my husband going to think? Of course he thought the worst and the accusations immediately started. I felt so ashamed that I didn't tell my family about my diagnosis. I didn't want them to think what my husband was thinking. Eventually, I told my parents and my mother was very concerned, but due to her work schedule was unable to attend any appointments with me. When I reached out to my older sister and explained to her what was going on, I remember her saying, "Isn't that an STD?" That's when I realized I would be going through this alone. I made my appointments and had a LEEP procedure done. It was then my doctors told me that I had high-grade Dysplasia and CIN 3. The LEEP procedure was very painful, but my life had to go on – I had children at home that needed me and my husband was no support at all. Shortly after the LEEP procedure, I went in for my biopsy. My husband went with me to that appt. only because I was going to be put to sleep for the procedure and needed a driver to take me home. Unfortunately I had heavy bleeding and my doctor kept me overnight.
Once my biopsy was taken care of I went to all of my follow up appointments and was clear after that. My life at home immediately turned to hell. After an argument my husband told me that he had wished the cancer killed me. I dealt with my rocky marriage for a couple of years after that only because I was scared to leave. Eventually though, I reached a turning point in my marriage and I found the courage to leave him.
After filing for divorce I decided to learn about what I had gone through. I reached out to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition and read stories of other women who were going through similar experiences, I attended a conference the NCCC had in October of 2010 and thats where I met Tamika and learned about her organization . I wanted to learn more – I finally found a resource I could openly talk about my cancer without feeling ashamed or embarrassed.
I now talk about HPV and cervical cancer to anyone that will listen. I want to help women deal with their diagnosis and give them support. I had no one talk to and felt so alone. No women should ever feel ashamed for having HPV and no women should have to go through this alone.