Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cervical Cancer Awareness

I'm pretty sure this is PMS rant week for me.

I HATE breast cancer awareness games on Facebook.  I really wish people would not send them to me.  I wrote a whole long post back in September about the last "game" since it caused more problems than good.  I read some of the posts about women who have or have had breast cancer and their thoughts on it.  Most were more hurt than anything since the cancer has robbed them of their own fertility. 

I understand the need for awareness, I don't mind the little pink ribbons everywhere.  But breast cancer is not the only type of cancer out there!  All of us have been affected by cancer, whether it be ourselves, family members, friends or pets.  Maybe it was breast cancer, maybe it was another type.  

Sometimes I wear a teal ribbon.  People ask me what it is for because they "have never seen that colour before."  My teal ribbon (or teal mixed with some other colour) is for cervical, ovarian,  and endometrial cancer, along with PCOS and infertility.  I was going to post about something completely different today but now this is going to be all about cervical cancer since that is what has affected me the most.  It never gets awareness, no one ever talks about it, and I hear so much information that is WRONG about it.

August 2004 - I was 19 when I went to PPH for my first pap smear.  I really only wanted birth control pills, they made me get the stupid pap.  It came up abnormal and I was told to come back for another in six months.

December 2004 - Second pap also abnormal, I'm told I carry HPV (Human Papillomavirus).  Everyone that gets two abnormal paps is labeled as HPV.  I was heartbroken to know I had an incurable STD.  (That was also the least of my worries.)  After that I was sent to a real OBGYN where I "hung out" for the next several years.

January 2005 - Colposcopy.  I went alone since my mum was gone years ago and my ex dumped me the month before.  FYI a Colposcopy or Colpo is a biopsy of the cervix.  You are in stirrups, cervix is giving a shot to numb it, vinegar is placed on the cervix (which turns the abnormal cells white), and a biopsy is done at different locations on the cervix.  It's done by a long stick that kind of sounds like nail clippers to do the biopsy.  Then the little chunks of your cervix is stuck in jars (labeled with whatever o'clock they are) and sent to a lab.  A solution is put on your cervix to stop the bleeding.  You are awake the whole time and are sent home right after.

February 2005 - LEEP.  My biopsy came back as CIN III severe dysplasia high risk.  FYI a LEEP or LLETZ is removal of the cells from the cervix.  Stirrups, numbed cervix, sticky pad put on your butt to "ground" you and an electric wire loop is used to cut away the bad cells.  More solution to stop the bleeding at the end.  Same as a Colpo, awake for the whole thing and sent home same day.  Although some doctors put women out for it, I've always been awake.  A LEEP is bad because it takes away the most amount of cervix out of other treatments used, a LEEP is good because it has the highest success rate.  

And then I had many more pap smears and Colpos over the years, some of often as every three months since they kept coming back abnormal.  I really don't remember how many I've had since I lost count.  But I'm pretty sure at times my OBGYN saw more of me than his pregnant patients.

I was 20 with CIN III.  This is all I ever knew at the time and it was all normal to me.  I was OK with it.

June 2005 - HPV test came back negative.  Dr. M said 1. I still carrying the virus but it was in the dominate state; or 2. I never actually had it in the first place.  He also said it didn't matter ether way since 80% of the population has the virus.  FYI HPV is an STD that causes warts, cancer, warts AND cancer, or nether.  Most of the time it is undetected, especially in men.  There is no cure.  And I have never had genital warts, incase you were wondering.

LEEP usually has the highest sucess rate.  After a couple years I was finally cleared to have paps every six months.  And then it came back.  I cried at work one day and no one knew why.  I wasn't crying because of my abnormal pap, the Dr telling me I need a Colpo or the physical pain.  I cried because after years I needed to go through all this shit all over again.  I was 23 at the time.

August 2008 - Another Colpo, only CIN II this time.  I've "improved", but I still need another LEEP.  PPH told me I was their most calmest patient ever for a Colpo and even let me play Tetris on my iPhone during the procedure.  

February 2008 - My second LEEP.  The Dr. told me with my overall health and age that this was very rare and I was just really unlucky.  Great.

Since then all my paps have been normal.  I'm still in shock to this day and tell them I don't mind coming back for another in a couple months.

With cervical cells there are three different groups.
  • Normal
  • Dysplasia AKA pre-cancer (CIN I, II, & III)
  • Cancer
A lot of times it is slow moving and it would be able ten years before I actually died from it.  With Dysplasia CIN I and II it can even go away on its own in some cases.  But with CIN III if you wait long enough it will most likely turn into cancer.

What about the cervical cancer vaccine?  People ask me about this.  Sometimes they even replace cervical with ovarian or another type of cancer.  First off I have never been given the vaccine.  I'm old and when it was being developed I had already had my first LEEP.  So it was too late for me and I've never had an OBGYN bother to push it.  Second it is labeled wrong.  It is not the cervical cancer vaccine, it is the HPV vaccine!  The vaccine makes it so you do not get the six most common types of HPV.  But there are over 100 different strains of the virus.  Just because you are vaccinated doesn't mean you won't get HPV.  Just because you don't have HPV doesn't mean you won't get cervical cancer.  Often times when people think of a vaccine they believe that having it means there is a 100% chance they won't get whatever they are vaccinated for.  People even think that with the common flu vaccine, then don't understand why they do end up with the flu later on.  I worry about the HPV vaccine being marketed as the cervical cancer vaccine.  Will women now believe they won't get such cancer?  Will women skip out or wait longer between pap smears because they don't think they will get it?  What if they wait and it's too late by the time it is caught?  I fear the cervical cancer vaccine will cause more problems down the road.

This is my story.  Although I am safe now I am never out of the blue.  I am left with cervical stenosis.  I've never had full blown cancer, I've never had any parts removed due to it.  However, I'll never bitch about how "painful" or uncomfortable a pap smear is ever again.  Those who do are all fucking babies.  (Except the OBGYN that tried dilated my cervix with her fingernails since she couldn't find it during a pap smear last year.  Yes that was painful.  Bitch!)

It shouldn't be all about breast cancer, breast cancer and breast cancer.  So many other types need awareness too.  
CD2, yeah AF arrived!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the informative blog!! we all accept the thing that experience makes human perfect so we should learn the good lessons from it!! And also should share the inspiration to others, who suffer!!But it should never hurt them!!


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