When I was 32 years old, I started having pain in my pelvis occasionally, but it wasn’t anything severe enough to make me go to the ER. It wasn’t even bad enough to call in sick to work. I usually just took a couple Tylenol to dull the pain so I could ignore it and get on with my day.
A few months later, I started bleeding after having sex. Usually it was just a little bit, but a few times it was more. Even though I was having these weird symptoms, I kept putting off going to the doctor. It took me about six more months before I finally called my gynecologist and made an appointment.
I had convinced myself everything was fine, but once the doctor started examining me, it was obvious something was wrong. She took a sample and told me she was sending it to a specialist for evaluation. A couple days later, I got the call. I had cervical cancer caused by a high-risk strain of HPV (I had never been vaccinated).
I went through chemotherapy and radiation for the tumor in my cervix. I spent months where I felt sick all the time and could barely get out of bed. I lost my hair. Fortunately, I’ve been cancer-free for several years now, but finding out I had cancer and going through treatment was the scariest, darkest time of my life.
My advice is to never ignore when your body is telling you something’s wrong. And don’t put off going to the doctor for your regular appointments and tests. Get vaccinated for HPV and be proactive about your health!
— Maya, age 36