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.