Living with HPV

By LISA SPINELLI  |  September 4, 2009
VIEWHPV comic by Katie "Megaphone" Diamond

(Although, on the plus side, I did lose about 10 pounds. The National Institutes of Health notes that overweight people, even if not obese, are more likely to get certain cancers. Although cervical cancer is not one of them, I figured cancer is cancer and losing weight could only help.)

I went back to the MGH colposcopy clinic, and this place is truly great, but I wound up with yet another gyno. Turned out, I didn’t get a LEEP. Instead, I got two more biopsies, a PAP, and a not-exactly-awesome procedure called the endocervical curettage that involves a doctor scraping the canal between the cervix and the uterus with a thing that looks like a long metal file. Sound like a party? Cramp-like symptoms, check; bleeding, check; exhaustion, check. I was done.

Yet, in the end, everything came back fine: no cancer, no abnormal cells.

“If it comes back normal, that almost makes me more nervous,” my doctor admitted, “like we missed something.”

Was that fear in his eyes?

Not laying around
I hope that by speaking up and telling my story, I can raise awareness about these three awful letters and dispel some of the misinformation out there.

I don’t know what lies ahead for me. At any point, I could wind up back in another doctor’s stirrup chair for who-knows-how-many more rounds of poking and probing. But I’ve decided to stop focusing on the endless (and dreary) possibilities. I don’t see an upside to dwelling on the not-so-great aspects of this disease.

Instead, I’m focusing on my future with my amazing husband and trying to make a baby . . . and crossing my fingers that this is the end of my story with HPV.

Lisa Spinelli can be reached at

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  •   LIVING WITH HPV  |  September 04, 2009
    The results are “normal.” I breathe a sigh of relief. But should I be relieved? It’s been two years since I heard a registered nurse tell me “You have HPV,” and I am still getting scraped from the inside out, still making appointments to see doctors, and still terrified that I’ll get cancer.

 See all articles by: LISA SPINELLI