Kelly DeSorte-Newton's Story

"Both my doctors and I already knew that the Pap test isn't foolproof ... but I was angry that I didn't know about the HPV test..."

span quote left  In 2002, I felt as if all of my dreams were coming true. My career with Marriott International Hotels was taking off, I was happily into my second year of marriage and I had friends and family who loved and supported me. My husband and I were already planning the next step in our lives – having a child.

But, something inside nagged at me as if I knew something was wrong. For the [previous] five years, I had experienced irregular heavy bleeding and pain. My gynecologist assured me that because of my history of normal Pap tests I had nothing to worry about. The problem was just breakthrough bleeding and, most likely, an inverted cervix.

In March 2002, I called the doctor's office again after my symptoms grew worse. My gynecologist was unavailable, but her colleague told me to come in right away. When I arrived, she performed a colposcopy – a procedure that allows the physician to closely examine the cervix and to remove a sample of tissue for analysis. When the results came back, I was shattered: I had invasive cervical cancer. I thought, "How can this be? I've had regular, normal Pap tests for at least 10 years!"

I underwent a radical hysterectomy, in which my uterus and fallopian tubes were removed. Fortunately, the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes so I didn't have to go through chemotherapy or radiation. While the procedure saved my life, I was devastated.

After the ordeal, we did not want to give up on having children. We decided on in vitro fertilization, with my sister Cherie serving as a gestational carrier. In 2003, my harvested embryos were implanted into Cherie and weeks later, we found out we were having twins – a boy and a girl.

Our story was so unique that it grabbed national attention. The Discovery Health Channel taped our story for its program "Birth Day" and even aired snippets of the Oct. 23 birth of our children – Kelsey Grace and Bertram Parker.

Overcome with joy, my beautiful twin babies kept my mind from what I had endured the year before. It wasn't until I saw a commercial for the human papillomavirus (HPV) test and how it can help prevent cervical cancer that everything came rushing back. Both my doctors and I already knew that the Pap test isn't foolproof – made clear by the fact that I always had normal Paps – but I was angry that I didn't know about the HPV test, or much about HPV – the cause of cervical cancer.

While I consider myself fortunate to be alive and have two children of my own, some women with cervical cancer are not as lucky. My hope is that by sharing my story I can not only prevent other women from losing their ability to have children, but I can save their lives.span quote right