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National Cervical Cancer Coalition


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 Post subject: My story - and questions
PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 10:18 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2010 8:11 am
Posts: 7
Location: PA
I am so glad that I found this forum. I have had such anxiety and stress about HPV and didn't know where to turn.

My story: I had my first abnormal pap in 2006. Had a colp, showed nothing, so we let it go and it cleared itself. In spring 2010, I had another abnormal pap, thought nothing of it. Had the colp, and my doctor saw one spot. Biopsy showed high grade dysplasia so I underwent LEEP in July 2010. I also consulted with a naturopath about diet changes and vitamin changes. I had a really awful time of just everything in November 2009 when I was basically sick for the entire month. The nautropath thinks that, if I had kicked HPV before, my immune system could have broken down that November, which is why it went high grade.

At my follow up appointment, my doctor said my cervix was healing "beautifully" and should be back to "normal" within a year. The spot he removed was very small, he said, and I should have full regrowth (though I don't know what to believe from him, as you'll see below).

I went back for my first colp post-LEEP in late November and my doc found not spots. However, the pap came back abnormal and I again have low grade dysplasia.

I am devastated. I thought I was doing everything I could possibly do to clear this, and apparently I haven't. I am a very healthy person and eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. I increased my foods with folate, beta carrotene and selenium, but apparently I didn't do this enough. That or I'm not going to be able to beat this thing, which I'm worried about.

I'm going back on the diet recommended by my naturopath and trying to go 100% organic this time. I'm probably going to switch doctors, too. He has horrible bedside manner (I had to research almost everything on HPV on my own, and he dismissed anything that diet could do to help). When he told me about my latest pap results, he asked me if I was past childbearing years because if I was, they'd do LEEP. I practically cried into the phone: "I already had LEEP - and I am of child bearing age. Why did you do that to me?" I admit that I didn't look enough into LEEP beforehand and am only now realizing the risk of damage it could have done/did to my cervix. I think he seems too surgery bent if he was going to recommend LEEP again for low grade (he apologized, said he didn't have my chart in front of me, and then said that treatment of this should not affect my fertility). My boyfriend and I are starting to talk about when we want to get married and have children. Part of my anxiety is that if I can't beat this thing, I won't have children and will ruin our plans and our lives. He is very supportive of me, and of what I'm doing to try to clear this BTW. After my diagnosis, he was shocked but didn't get mad at me after we discussed what was going on. I feel blessed to have him.

So I guess my questions are:
Has anyone worked with a naturopath to help boost the immune system to beat this?
Can diet really help?
Am I doomed to not have children?
Can I really beat this thing without having to undergo LEEP again?
Is there any place I can go for a good GYN doctor recommendation? I'm not sure if I should be looking for a GYN oncologist at this point.

I know that it's impossible to answer these questions without knowing everything, but I just feel so lost after getting back an abornormal pap four and a half months post LEEP.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2010 4:16 pm 
Site Admin

Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:08 pm
Posts: 2122
Location: North Carolina
Hi Amber,

Has anyone worked with a naturopath to help boost the immune system to beat this?
Can diet really help?

There are some studies that indicate women with healthy diets (high intake of fruits and veggies) have lower risk of cervical cancer. I'll post an article below.

Am I doomed to not have children?

We can't answer this question for your specific case, of course, but we can tell you that most women are able to have children following treatment for cervical abnormalities. It's important that you stressed to your health care provider that you do indeed want to have children, as of course this should be considered when deciding on a treatment plan.

Can I really beat this thing without having to undergo LEEP again?

No way to predict this. Sometimes there are more abnormal cells that need treatment, whether the treatment is LEEP or something else. Recurrences are by no means rare, but usually don't just keep happening over and over.

Is there any place I can go for a good GYN doctor recommendation? I'm not sure if I should be looking for a GYN oncologist at this point.

Have you asked your insurance company? Sometimes they have referrals and tools for selecting a provider. If there's a women's health center near you, maybe check with them, too.

Keep us posted, if you don't mind. Let us know how things are going. Please come back as often as you'd like.

Best,
Fredo

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2010 4:16 pm 
Site Admin

Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:08 pm
Posts: 2122
Location: North Carolina
Cervical Cancer and Diet
(c) ASHA

People’s risk for HPV and anogenital cancers can, to some extent, be lowered by healthy lifestyle choices. We now know that consistent condom use decreases risk for HPV infection. Cigarette smoking is a proven risk factor for cervical cancer, and smoking also increases the risk for HPV infection and persistence—giving us all yet another reason to abstain from tobacco use.

Does what we eat also affect risk for cervical cancer and HPV? For years, women have asked ASHA if there are certain foods they should eat to reduce the risk of cervical cancer. We typically respond that while there aren’t specific dietary guidelines for cervical cancer prevention, eating a low-fat diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables strengthens the immune system and is associated with a reduced risk for cancer, in general.

A recent study seems to back up that advice. Chaitali Ghosh, Ph.D., and a team of researchers from the State University of New York College at Buffalo examined the relationship between diet and cervical cancer risk.

The investigators used questionnaires to collect information about diet and medical backgrounds from female patients at Buffalo hospital. Responses from 239 women with cervical cancer were compared with those from 979 hospital patients with no cervical disease.

Diets rich in fiber, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, vitamins A, C, and E, lutein, folate, and high total fruit and vegetable consumption were associated with a 40-60% reduction in risk, leading the researchers concluded that plant-based diets have promise in reducing cervical cancers. More research is needed to fully understand the diet-cervical cancer connection, but eating healthy has many proven benefits.

The American Cancer Society offers an FAQ about cancer and diet, including information on dietary fat and fiber, antioxidants, and folate.

Reference
C. Ghosh et al. Dietary Intakes of Selected Nutrients and Food Groups and Risk of Cervical Cancer. Nutrition and Cancer. 2008; 60:331-41.

Posted by Fredo

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2011 3:44 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2010 8:11 am
Posts: 7
Location: PA
Quick update:

I've calmed myself the fark down. I think I just had to be upset about the whole thing, have a pity party, then square my shoulders, and go at it again. My best friend from college is also dealing with this, and pointed out that low grade isn't necessarily an awful thing. It's not high grade again, and my body does indeed have time to get it out of there. My naturopath isn't majorly concerned either. She made some adjustments in her recommendations to me in the mix of vitamins I'm taking. She also looked at my medical files and said that the spot removed during LEEP was incredibly small, which allays my fears about having children post-LEEP.

I have also started the process of switching doctors. I looked in my insurance company database to start - thank you for that recommendation. My boyfriend also works in the medical field and got recommendations. He found a university affiliated doctor who promotes a combination of medical and holistic treatment to avoid GYN surgery, and is also highly rated. This is important to me because my first doctor was so dismissive of it. On top of his horrible bedside manner and hint of a suggestion about doing LEEP for low grade dysplasia, it was time for a change.

I don't know when my next pap will be since I'm switching doctors, but I will update.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 9:43 am 
Site Admin

Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:08 pm
Posts: 2122
Location: North Carolina
Hi Amber,

Thanks for posting the update, and for sure there's a LOT to work through emotionally when you first learn about HPV. I'm glad you're feeling better, and have a new doc who seems to be in tune with you. Excellent! Please let us know how you're doing, always good to hear from you.

Best,
Fredo

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 2:45 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2010 8:11 am
Posts: 7
Location: PA
Another update. My appointment for a re-do of the pap is on Monday. Thoughts and good karma that it come back negative would be MUCH appreciated.


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