Human Papillomavirus. It’s the same word in Dutch... for my co-mother tongue speakers. Have you ever heard about HPV? I’ll tell you why I’m writing about this and why it is important to break the taboo and spread awareness.
In August my doctor proposed a random standard check-up with a smear test. I had no symptoms or complaints or whatsoever. After this really short visit to Belgium, I left for a 2-week training course in Crete, Greece. During the course, I learned, that I store a lot of my stress and trauma in my pelvis and around my yoni. (Yoni is the Sanskrit word for vagina if you didn’t know this already.) On the last day of the retreat I shared with the group: “I feel that I’m ready to heal myself now.”.
Only half an hour later I said this, I receive a phone call from my doctor where she tells me they found abnormal cells in my cervix in the lab results. Almost like I felt this one coming!
Abnormal cells, what does this mean and where do they come from? The Human Papillomavirus infects cells in the cervix, if the infection stays too long they become abnormal. This abnormality is a precursor stage of cervix cancer. In almost 80 percent of the cases, women with abnormal cells can naturally heal themselves within 2 years. In almost all cases, abnormal cells are caused by HPV. Also, 100% of cervix-cancer cases are caused by HPV! I’m so stunned by the lack of awareness about HPV because we could prevent for so many women to create this cancer. How is this even possible, that we don’t talk about this?
Something more about HPV now. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease/virus, that affects 80% (!) of society. It cannot be tested in STD-tests of men so they can spread and carry it with most likely no knowledge or symptoms. Most young girls (at least in Belgium) receive vaccines for cervix-cancer, what doctors/school/media doesn’t explain clear enough is that these vaccines are not against cancer in the first place, but against some types of the Human Papillomavirus. HPV has about a 100 different types and only 15 are possibly causing cancer, marked as high-risk HPV.
To prevent HPV and decrease your chance of cervix cancer, you can do a few things. First of all: ALWAYS use a condom during sexual activity. It’s not 100% safe for transmitting HPV, but it will definitely save you in most cases and also for other diseases. Advice young girls to get the vaccines before their first sexual interaction happens later is also still possible. It only works in the 2 most common high-risk types of HPV, not for example in the more rare type that I have. And my 3rd advice, Ladies, please get a smear test at least every 3 years. If something ‘weird’ is growing, at least they can follow up soon on it.
Don’t get too scared, just be aware! Only about 10% of women with HPV, get abnormal cells and eventually, only 1 percent of woman with a type of HPV develops cervix cancer.
Enough now with the sexual/health education awareness class. I want to share how I feel about my situation. Knowing these results since September, definitely made me more aware of my own body and my desire to live. The moment the words ‘abnormal’ and ‘precursor cancer’ are dropped, it was like a slap in my face. Damn, this is serious. ‘Can anything be done? Can I do something about this?’ No. I just have to wait until the next follow up moment. Wait. Accept. Focus on healing, living healthy. Eating/drinking shitloads of turmeric and ginger. Doing some trauma release sessions. Breathe. Learn to really feel and listen to my body. I know that this is just a signal of my being to take better care of myself, the connection between the mind, body, soul, and hearth is strong. When one doesn't feel heard, another will scream for help.
Today I got my new results and it’s still the same, it didn’t change. No good news, no bad news above the existing news. I feel confused, anger and disappointment. I really believed I would have healed already. That it would have been gone. Now I feel pressure, to NOT feel pressure. Sometimes it feels like sitting on a ticking time bomb, the moment I’m weak or I will not take good enough care of myself, the cancer cells might grow. I feel responsible for creating those abnormal cells in my body, so I also feel the duty to kindly show them the door. To tell them: ‘I got your message, you can go now.’. I will continue this learning process… I feel fear, not being able to live the life that I want. Although I don’t have any symptoms now, it does already slightly affect my future plans.
I planned to travel around the world, but now I decided to stay in Europe. Because every 3 months I will need new tests and every 3 months there is the possibility that when I receive the results, I will need to stay longer in Belgium for some kind of treatment.
I feel relieved every time I talk to someone about my situation. It feels good to leave some of the stress about it in the conversation, so I don’t need to carry it with me all the time. It’s time we start talking about HPV and the consequences it has, to break the taboo. There is no shame in it, it can happen to all of us.
At the moment, I don’t need to receive any medical treatments yet and I felt that it doesn't help my ‘zen’ to have a lot of conversations or research about cancer. The moment I want all of your experiences, feedback, and opinions, I will shout out for help on Compass to Connection. Feel free to send me some good vibes though or your views on what IS!
Note: This blog post is not medical advice, always go to a doctor if you have questions. All of the percentages in this article are coming from research and articles I read on internet or things I discussed with my doctor and not necessarily all of them are evidence-based. Anyway, it will give you an indication of how HPV works and in which scale it’s widespread.