My Story: Hpv, Cervical Cancer, And Leep.

Earlier this year I was scheduled for a (what i thought would be a routine) pap smear. First problem, I had not had a pap in about 5 years.  They had always been uncomfortable (almost painful) and pretty hard on my nerves (I don't like the feeling of being exposed like that to a total stranger). But, I needed a birth control option to use with my soon to be husband, as we are not planning on kids until we are a couple years into our marriage. The doctor I chose was really great, and made me feel very comfortable with what she was doing and I felt like I could trust her.  I left with my new birth control (the pill) and the confidence that I would return to her for annual exams. 


A week later she called me personally. I have never had the actual doctor call me, if something needed to be rescheduled, a member of the staff would always do it.  But this doctor called me personally to tell me my test results were in and they were not normal. I felt numb as she told me that I had high to severely abnormal results on my pap smear and would like to see me right away for a colposcopy and a biopsy of the affected cells on my cervix.


When I got to the appointment for the colposcopy the doctor informed me that the cause of the abnormal cells was the type of HPV that has a high risk of causing cervical cancer. She even gave me a printout of all the strains of HPV I tested positive for. More than ONE? Seriously?  Where I got this HPV from, I do not know. I felt so much shame, and I was very embarrassed in front of my fiance. As it was, he had come with me to the colposcopy for moral support and now my doctor was telling me I had multiple strains of an STD? Luckily, my fiance was amazing and  held my hand as the doctor explained what she needed to do.  He continued to hold my hand as the doctor performed the colposcopy. The actual procedure was not as bad as I expected, but it was not comfortable. At least it was brief.  I concentrated on my breathing, squeezed my fiance's hand and then I was warned I would feel a pinch. OWWWWW.  Ok, almost done, now to scrape out the cervical canal.  More OWWWWWWWW. Finally done, but I was cramping pretty badly. My wonderful fiance drove me home and I spent the rest of the day in the fetal position on the couch. Luckily that was just a one-day thing.  I felt normal the next day.  


A week later, I got another call. My results had come back from the samples the doctor took during the colposcopy.  They showed CIN III (precancer) and early (stage IA1) cancer of the cervix. I have to tell you, there are really no words for how I felt when she told me that.   My doctor wanted to schedule me for something called a LEEP and a Cone Biopsy at the same time (to collect more tissue and remove the actual area of abnormal cells).  A LEEP (or the loop electrosurgical excision procedure) is a procedure where an electrofied tool is used to scrape off the cells, and cauterize the affected area at the same time. 


  I thought this was something I could just go to the office for but the doctor said that she thought it was best to perform the procedure in an outpatient surgical center. She explained I would recieve general anesthesia at this clinic and would not feel anything during the actual procedure. Sounded good to me, I take a snooze while they take out the bad stuff and I won't feel anything!


A few weeks later I had my appointment at the surgical center. Between the time I had talked to the doctor about the appointment itself I had made the MISTAKE of looking up other people's experiences online (not on experience project - I had not yet found the site) and some really scared me. I guess it is possible for someone to have a LEEP with just a local anesthesic , but I was having a general because I had more tissue to remove. I was also afraid of how I would feel afterward. There are a lot of people out there that have had very traumatizing experiences!


So my name was called and I kissed my fiance and told him I would see him in a bit.  I went back, got into a gown and sat down on the gurney, A really nice, friendly nurse walked by me in the pre-op area and said "you look like a deer in the headlights" to me, which I am sure was the truth!!!!! She then came back a few minutes later to introduce herself and start my IV.  No drugs yet, just fluids.  She inserted the IV and said I still had a bit of time before my procedure, so try to relax and she would go get my fiance to come sit and wait with me.  The moment she left I immediately started having a panic attack. Trouble breathing, dry heaving, feeling chills.  I was still like that when my fiance walked in with her... she grabbed a little pan for me to vomit in (even though I did not use it, I had not eaten since early the day before - therefore nothing to barf up) and my fiance started rubbing my back to calm me down.   I then waited about 20 minutes in the pre-op area talking to my fiance and various people that popped their heads into my curtained area to introduce themselves (my doctor, my anesthesologist, etc). I was just getting used to the IV in my hand and calming myself down when they came to wheel me into the operating room.  My fiance kissed me and said he would see me soon. I held it together until I got through the doors.  I cried a little (all out of fear) as they wheeled me into the operating room. I saw a table and stirrups. And a few people I had not seen yet.   Big lighting rig. But I was in a gurney and attached to an IV - how would I get up there on that operating table?  My anesthesologist came over to me and told me he was going to give me something to calm me down a little, as they were still getting ready for the procedure.  He injected something into my IV that made me feel warm, fuzzy, and very heavy. I closed my eyes. 


Well.  The next thing I knew, I was in another room (the recovery room) and my nurse was back at my side,  removing sticky pads from my chest and asking me if I would like something cold to drink. She told me I did very good, and that she was proud of me. WAIT..... Proud of me for WHAT, exactly? I was so disoriented and had absolutely no sense of how much time passed. She said the procedure had taken 30 minutes, most of it prep time for me, and only about 10 minutes of the actual LEEP and cutting.  I felt like I had been roofied or something! How did they move me? And position my legs in the stirrups? Strangely enough, I then thought good of myself for shaving my legs earlier that morning - I know it probably doesn't matter but but that seriously crossed my mind at the time!! ;) 


The nurse brought my fiance back  the recovery room and there I drank juice and ate crackers.  My fiance told the nurse I looked a little pale. She asked if I felt ok.  I was pretty nauseous and achy and so she gave me a shot of something to get rid of the nausea and another shot of Demerol into my IV. I laid back and just zoned out for a while... who knows how long. All I know is, I felt slightly wet between my legs..  The nurse came in to remove my IV and check my pad (nice lady, just pull it out in front of my soon-to-be husband... the mystery is GONE for him now ha ha) which was covered in yellowish-orange goo...not blood looking at all. She said it was ok for me to get dressed when I felt get ready to go. 


The nurse closed the curtain and it was just me and my fiance.  I swung my legs over the side of the bed and tried to stand. Wow, not really gonna happen. My legs felt like jello, like I had just run a marathon. They started to buckle and my fiance caught me.   The most humbling moment of our relationship happened. I was so numb, uncordinated, naked, bleeding and I couldn't even put on my own underwear or even the maxi-pad.  He looked at the maxi-pad wings for a second, and said "sorry... this is my first time with these"  and I nodded. (Me too, I have been using tampons since my my very first period) 


Somehow the man got me fully dressed and sat me down in a comfy chair. I was absolutely horrified to see the sheets on the gurney were covered in black, and yellow liquid where I had been sitting only minutes before.  I was given paperwork and perscriptions while he went to bring around the car. With help I made it out to the car, and home, and to my favorite easy chair. I stayed there for the remainder of the evening, except for a few trips to the bathroom (which I was proud to do by myself). I took some tylonol with codiene and was escorted to bed, where I slept for a good 8 hours.  


That was last night.  I woke up this morning, early, and oddly enough, not feeling any pain.  I did feel like I was only slightly hung over and I made myself replay the events of the previous day in my mind.  How did I feel this good with all that happening just yesterday? I tossed off the covers and stood up pretty fast.  


Not the best idea.  I felt like my vag had been hit by a freight train. Very sore, almost raw.  I needed to use the bathroom but I was able to walk to the bathroom (slowly) and come back to bed. 


Oddly enough, there is absolutely no blood or anything coming out of me at this point.  Which kind of scares me because there was so much fluid yesterday and I'm very dry now.  I guess in the next few days of the healing process I will start to bleed a bit and bits of the paste they used to stop my bleeding will come out.  But for now, nothing. 


I didn't even take pain medication for the first half of today, I honestly didn't feel that bad. Just sore, and I can deal with that.   I did take a pill tonight, as I was cramping more, but again, not too huge of a deal, I just wanted to be comfortable enough to sleep.   Instead of sleeping though, I got on my computer and found this awesome website... and started typing my story to you.  


I apologize if this has been disjointed at all, I just felt I needed to get it all out while the memories and feelings are still fresh and honest.  (Seriously, it is now 3am my time and I have not stayed up this late in years)


I plan to update this as time goes on, and my healing progresses.  I know dealing with HPV, cervical cancer, and the procedures used in treating it can be very scary but you're never alone.  While everyone is a little bit different, there's groups of people like this one that can relate to some of the basic feelings that you're going through.  At least I felt that way.  


So thanks for reading my little story, if you got this far.  I think I have got enough down to make me happy, and I think I can sleep now.  


Sweet dreams and healthy days, 




jessicakes jessicakes
10 Responses Aug 14, 2010

Wow, thank you so much for this Jessiecakes. I'm 41 and this really helped me to feel comfortable about my having the LEEP Cone procedure. I'm actually meeting with my doctor today to go over details of the surgery.

Thank you so much for sharing...are you okay now..can you give me an update


I go in for my procedure Monday! I'm 24 and this just gave me a little bit of relief. Thank you for taking the time to write!!!

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I was diagnosed with hpv two days ago. I'm only 21 years old. Your story gave me hope. Thanks again.

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I had the same thing last month but under local. Have my next smear next month to check it's all gone. Reading your story really hit home of how it felt. I hope you h AV e a speedy recovery

WOW..thanks for sharing! I'm going in to have the "CKC cone biopsy" done next month lol! Not really looking forward to the particular event but, what can you do? LOL. I am one of the unfortunate ones who was diagnosed with "high risk (Stage2)" only to also turn up with some warts later on as well. What a double whammy! I feel like such a kicked puppy and just when I thought I had the strength to get up again, someone kicked me even harder. I haven't had intercourse in a year at the time of my diagnoses and no telling how long it was laying dormant in my body! Luckily, you had a caring fiance that was there to hold your hand through it all! What a stand up guy huh!? Wish there were more people in the world like that! Sorry but I LOLD about the pad thing..lame!! I would've cried haha. I can't help to wonder if my boyfriend from over a year ago has this now..and who gave it to who? I must sound like an owl :) So, i'm so glad you found out when you did! Just in time, huh?! Sounds like this fiance of yours has saved you in more than one way because if you never went for that birth control, you never would have known! I never would have scheduled a pap either if my doctor didn't suggest it..thank God she did! Looks like we got really lucky girl! Imagine the ones still out there who, like us..hate getting pap tests and therefore keep putting them off. The ones who could already have cervical cancer and not know it! I never had any symptoms before being diagnosed with the dysplasia and was pretty numb at first. Definitely having panic attacks now that I understand more about "what could" have happened. Thanks for sharing!

Hey, thanks for sharing your story. I have just been told that I have high risk HPV (after my first sexual partner and first pap smear) and now I have to have that biopsy done. My gynae has not given me any information and she is not supportive at all, worst of all, I cant tell my mom becuase she still thinks I am a virgin.. So I am freking out.. I am going for more tests on Thursday. Praying for the best:)

thanks for sharing your story. it scares me too and it has been years since i've been for a smear... i'm fortunate in that i've never had an abnormal smear before so i guess there's always a first time for everything. i am sorry for how embarrassed you felt, even though you know it wasn't really your fault, we didn't know as much about hpv for so long. you've inspired me to get this done soon... my sister has had this procedure done twice and was unfortunate to have contracted hpv in her teens. i hadn't given it this much thought to how bloody awful and scary it must be to go through this experience.