Thursday, January 21, 2010

Orange is the Color for January, Pt 3: A reflective interview

In my effort to encourage awareness and education for Cervical Cancer and HPV I have taken on the responsibility of researching and educating myself more on it. The things I have learned have really enlightened me.

Even more enlightening was my interview that I had with an endearing, bright and cheerful, young woman who I am so thankful for sharing her story of HPV with me openly, so that I may share it with you. Over a cup of Caramel Macchiatto and coffee cake in a local Starbucks here is our discussion:

girl talk...keeping it real

Q: What motivated you go to the Doctor to be checked out? Did you have symptoms?
A: I did not have any symptoms health wise. However, during intercourse it was brought to my attention that I had a few "razor bumps" on my genitals. My partner and I weren't sure what to think of it initially, so I did not do anything right away. However after a couple of weeks, I knew that I needed to have it checked and so I did.
Q: Once you had your exam, how long did it take to get your results back?
A: It took about a week for the results of the cervical biopsy to come back and to have my diagnosis of low risk HPV, the genital wart type.
Q: What were your initial thoughts upon learning the test results?
A: I cried many tears and had many thoughts; " are they going to go away?" "how will I explain this?" "will I have to give up sex?" (that bothered me) I wondered who I got it from, because I went through a reckless period in my life that resulted in several sex partners.
Q:Prior to diagnosis, did you know what HPV was? Or the dangers of it?
A: Well, yes and no. I knew of a friend that had contracted it, but did not know the depths of how serious it can be. Like I did not know people died from it because of the cervical cancer it causes.
Q: How old were you?
A: 20 years old
Q:How did you try to deal with the diagnosis? Did you seek counseling or a support group?
A: No, I did not seek any counseling. I just tried to come to terms with it on my own. I had to think about and come to terms with the decisions I've made and the consequences that go along with them. I had to deal with the emotional frustrations that come with accepting that I got this and that it is classified as an STD. It was not easy, but I was able to accept and move forward.
Q: Did you discuss this with future partners? When did you inform?
A: Once it was decided that my partner and I were going to be in a serious monogamous relationship, touching on the subject of sex without condoms. We were both getting tested to know our HIV status I thought it a good time to tell him then.
Q: What was his reaction?
A: Initially he was very upset. He was concerned about the future of our relationship. He wants to have a family and had feared that my having HPV would hinder those plans. He did his own research online and spoke to his Doctor about it. Having children and quality of life was not going to be affected by the type of HPV that I have, so he was relieved and became my supporter. It is no longer an issue in our relationship, he understands fully.
Q: How do you feel about counseling and organizations like Tamika and Friends? Would you recommend it?
A: If someone feels that they need someone to talk to in order to deal with their diagnosis and their future, then yes they should seek counseling. They should do the research and join organizations. The organizations provide wonderful outlets and support, they provide a voice and help to ease the anxiety, helping to see that you are not alone in your struggle.
Q: Did you get the HPV vaccination? And would you recommend it to other women?
A: Yes I did get vaccinated it is a series of three shots. One every three months, for six months. And ooooh! they hurt too! Those that are not diagnosed should do the research and make a personal choice based on what they have learned.
Q:Are you dealing with wart outbreaks?
A:I found a Natural healing Oils company online to treat the warts and I have not had a break out since. The company is
Q:Advice for other women, young girls?
A: Be smart. Be aware. Protect yourself and make good choices.
Wow, the time had come to end our lively conversation. Reluctantly, I departed from this chatty young lady, who obviously has matured in her own ways through life experience. She certainly is a tough cookie with a tender heart.
I enjoyed conducting this interview and I hope you were enlightened as you read it. Learn from this story and those of the many other women who have been diagnosed with this illness. Fortunately for this woman her diagnosis did not result in the removal of her reproductive organs, but not every woman with the disease can say the same. Every hour a woman is told that she has cervical cancer and every 2.5 hours a woman dies from it. Share this information with your sisters, mothers, aunts, cousins and friends. Get your exam and take the pledge
*Although information was shared from this interview on a product to use to remove genital warts, I do not endorse it. It has worked for this young woman but each person must check with their own physician before using anything. Removal of the warts does not mean that the illness is cured. There is no cure, only prevention. Go to for more information*

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