I just got the call from the doctor again. 5 years later, and the HPV still hasn’t gone away. I need to go back for another biopsy and make sure the cells haven’t turned cancerous since we did the last biopsy a year ago.
It has been a frustrating 5 years, full of appointments, pap smears, colposcopies and biopsies where they’ve scraped off part of my cervix each time, and even a LEEP procedure where they electrocuted off part of my cervix.
I’ve never been one to sleep around, and still I contracted HPV. That’s not even the worst part. The real kicker? I got the vaccine. And yet I developed another strain of HPV the vaccine doesn’t protect against, that is hanging on and doesn’t want to go away.
Why My Children Will Get the HPV Vaccine Despite My Experience
When I first moved to Texas, one of the first things I did after securing a job was seek new doctors (PCP, OB/GYN, and Dentist) that I liked. When I set up my annual appointment with my new OB/GYN, I completely anticipated an uneventful afternoon and a “See you in a year!” but what I got was the opposite. I heard the terms “abnormal pap” and “ABSCUS” for the first time.
My doctor told me I had HPV (human papillomavirus) and that I would wait a few months and do another pap to see if it went away because typically it resolves itself in a few months. So I went back for another pap 3-6 months later, and my results were still abnormal. Then it was time for a colposcopy and biopsy, where she’d take a closer look with a colposcope (like a microscope) and also test the DNA of an actual scraping of my cervix to determine if it was cancerous or not.
The tests came back and revealed that the cells were… not cancerous. But I still had abnormal cells, cancerous or not, and that would require another pap in 3-6 months to see if the HPV had gone away.
I went back and did my follow-up pap which also came back abnormal. When my doctor told me it was time for another colposcopy and biopsy, I decided it was time for another doctor. I was not up for this “wait and see” game – wait and see if it goes or away or if it turns into cancer. That’s just not the kind of adventure I’m looking for in my life.
My new doctor made me feel like this was more common than I originally thought and assuaged some of my fears. And for another 4 years, I continued the “wait and see” game. Pap – Colpo – Pap – Colpo – Pap – Colpo – Pap – Colpo – Pre-cancerous results. That’s when I had the LEEP procedure to electrocute off the abnormal part of my cervix (a quick outpatient procedure – notice, I didn’t say painless). A few months later, I had another Pap to confirm the virus was gone.
My heart sunk when I found out it wasn’t. We did another colpo to confirm that the cells still weren’t cancerous. In fact, they’d even been downgraded to less than pre-cancerous again, which was good news by comparison, but I had expected it to be gone completely after the procedure.
And now here I am, a year after those last results with another abnormal pap and the frightening look ahead at another colpo and the predictor of my future it holds.
Will the virus go away or will it become cancerous? Wait and see.
Why I Still Advocate for the Vaccine
Why would I advocate for a vaccine if I received the vaccine and still contracted the virus?
Because I haven’t gotten cancer! And anything we can do to protect ourselves against cancer should be done! I lost my stepmom to cancer ten years ago, and I don’t want to witness any more victims of this disease which has already taken too much.
Beyond that, it’s a personal crusade for me. Anything I can do for my children to keep them from going through this tortuous cycle of waiting and seeing for the last 5 years, sign me up! If my children can get the vaccine and avoid the uncertain future between freedom and cancer, I’ll accept the risks.
There’s no guarantee that by getting my children vaccinated they’ll never contract HPV, but the vaccine does help guard against the more dangerous strains of HPV, and that’s good enough for me! It’s good enough until there’s a better option. Because the better option is NOT doing nothing. It’s not waiting and seeing.
Trust me, waiting and seeing is a tortuous game. And I don’t want that life for my children.
PS: If you’re already a Stepmomming follower and are familiar with my story, I am not advocating for vaccination of children without biological parent agreement. This is an opinion piece about my experience and my (future) biological children.