Suzanne Di Staulo's Story

"Cervical cancer does not have to be a source of suffering for women and their families. In fact, it is one of the easiest cancers to prevent or cure – as long as it's caught in time!"

span quote leftThere I was – enjoying my life in a Cleveland-area suburb as a wife, mother and career professional. Everything was great, but on August 1, 2006, my worst fear came true. I was sitting across from my doctor with two of the most important people in my life – my husband and mother – being told that despite a series of normal Pap tests, I had a rare form of cervical cancer.

My story began with constant spotting back in January 2006. At first I didn’t think much about it – I was turning 40 years old and felt it might be the onset of menopause, so I dealt with the hassle. During my next annual gynecological appointment the following May, I mentioned the spotting to my doctor. My Pap test from that visit came back normal, but unfortunately the spotting continued.

I was still uneasy about the bleeding and, at the advice of my sister (who is a nurse), I went back to my doctor for a second visit. He did another series of Pap tests, and also did the HPV test. While my Pap tests were normal, the HPV test came back positive. A subsequent biopsy revealed that I had a rare form of cancer called adenocarcinoma. Only 10 percent of women diagnosed with cervical cancer develop this type. My doctor said that since my tumor was inside my cervix, none of my Pap tests had detected it. However, the HPV test sensed that it was there.

In the weeks that followed, I was told that a complete hysterectomy was the recommended treatment for my stage 1B cancer. I was lucky that I didn’t have to go through chemotherapy and radiation, but the experience made me committed to eliminate this disease, which devastates so many lives.

The message that I want to share with everyone and anyone is that my cancer was caused by HPV. Every woman MUST have an annual exam and understand that it’s okay to push her doctor for answers or more tests if she has a feeling something isn’t right. I can’t stress enough how important it is that all women have a regular annual Pap and, if they’re 30 or over, to ask for the HPV test as well. Talk to your doctor about HPV and what you can do to prevent it. If you have daughters, ask about the HPV vaccine for them. Cervical cancer does not have to be a source of suffering for women and their families. In fact, it is one of the easiest cancers to prevent or cure – as long as it's caught in time!span quote right