Before I was diagnosed with Chronic HPV, my life was normal. In 2002, I had gone in for a routine pap smear and was told that I had HPV. My pap results came back showing that I had both high-risk strains 16 and 18, which are the strains that are most likely to turn into cervical cancer. After doing some research and getting a few second opinions, I enrolled into a clinical trial which was monitoring women with high-risk HPV and their responses to certain treatments. This information was being used to better understand how aggressive some patients needed to be treated versus others in order to prevent cervical cancer from developing.
At my first visit with my clinical trial healthcare provider, I had a colposcopy, which is an internal exam to look at the cervix to see the specific areas of abnormality, followed by a LEEP procedure which removes abnormal tissue from the cervix to both diagnose and treat cervical disease. Unfortunately for me, the LEEP procedures did not work right away: initially it would look like everything was back to normal but months later I would again receive an abnormal Pap test. I would start feeling better, but then would experience bleeding again and it would be back to undergoing more biopsies and colposcopies
To help figure out what was going on and how I could manage my HPV effectively, I received multiple tests and treatments over the course of four years as part of the clinical trial. My biopsies from the laboratory would often come back with moderate abnormal development of cells (dysplasia) in my cervix. But over the years, lab tests showed that the abnormal cells became more and more invasive. This whole experience was very scary and it was an unnerving way to live because I was worried all the time about what was going to happen next.
My wife had previously been diagnosed with cervical cancer and I also have friends who had dealt with HPV issues, so I knew the risks of HPV. In 2010, I had another HPV flare up and this time my abnormal pap came back yet again as having high-risk strains 16 and 18, meaning that if this was not taken care of, it could again lead to cervical cancer. My clinical health care provider then recommended that I undergo a Dilation and Curettage procedure (D&C) to remove abnormal tissue. After undergoing that, I was finally in the clear and felt relieved and hopeful about moving forward in my health journey.
Since her diagnosis, Corie has become heavily involved in the patient advocacy community to help women understand the importance of screening for HPV and getting Pap tests. She encourages people to get involved with cervical cancer organizations and has written a book with information about pap smears and HPV testing and the importance of preventative testing. Her advice to other patients is to get as much information as you can about your condition so that you can talk in an educated way when you go to visit doctors. She also recommends to always seek out a second opinion as soon as you can in order to make the best decision for yourself.