A Letter to My Frenemy, HPV

Dear HPV,

You’re like an annoying ex-boyfriend that doesn’t leave me alone. For that matter, you are the product of an ex-boyfriend that wouldn’t leave me alone. Why do you keep coming back? This isn’t the first time you’ve showed up at my door. No, it’s the second time that you’ve reared your ugly head! I thought I was through with you, had kicked you to the curb. Adios, and all that. But then you come sashaying right back into my life with a hair flip and a giggle. God, I hate you.

You’re a tricky little bitch, HPV. First, I contract you within a five-year period of dating my ex-boyfriend, despite having gotten the HPV vaccinations! Of course, you didn’t do anything to him because he’s a guy and guys don’t really show any symptoms of having HPV. They can’t even test to see if they have it! And they don’t get cancer from HPV as often as women do. Why are you so sexist?

Then you didn’t even make an appearance on my cervix until the end of my relationship. Okay, I do have to thank you for that. Your arrival really was the last straw on an unhealthy relationship (actually you could have showed up earlier!). Thanks to you, I ended it. Wait…now I’m thanking you?

Then you have me crying for months, scared I’m going to get cancer, because that’s just one of your “things.” You make your way into healthy cervixes, you set up shop, and then you decide, cancer or no cancer?

You couldn’t just be the atypical form of HPV that every person gets. If you were that grade, my body would have fought you off in a few months and I would never have to deal with you again. No, you had to be a “moderate-grade,” just a leap from the scary shit. How nice of you.

To get rid of you I decided to have the LEEP surgery which required a shaving of my cervix. Yes, HPV, they shaved my cervix because of you! Do you know the side effects of having surgeries like that? Possibility of premature births and/or the inability to carry a child — depending how deep they cut into the cervix. I never realized how much I wanted kids one day until I had that surgery. But I needed to take back control of my body. I wasn’t going to let you control me any longer. However, I feared my decision, too. What if they removed too much of my cervix and I couldn’t carry a baby in the future? Did my ability to carry a child make me more of a woman? Did I need to have children to live a happy life?

Eventually, I came to the realization that my ability to carry a child wouldn’t make me more of a mother or a woman. I could adopt. I could choose to hire a surrogate. I could have no kids. Whatever I chose in the future, I would be okay with; I could handle it. So I guess that was good. Damn you, HPV, I’m thanking you again.

Oh, yeah, then when I had the surgery the doctor sent off that small part of my cervix and the results came back from the lab and they were…negative. What do you mean negative? Apparently, you decided to disappear entirely from my cervix before the surgery, so they shaved part of my cervix off for nothing. Thanks, HPV. (That was a sarcastic ‘thank you,’ by the way). You better be glad they didn’t shave a lot of my cervix either or you’d really have me P’O’ed.

For the next year and a half, my pap smears returned to normal, free of you, HPV. I couldn’t have been more ecstatic. The stress of you was gone from my life. I graduated from grad school, got a job in LA, had a stellar short hair-do, made more friends, and I was traveling the world. Things were going great.

Then recently, I found out you returned to my cervix. Did you just go on vacation for a few years, decided you missed my lady parts, and just had to return? Why are you so obsessed with me?

So, I had to have another colposcopy, a biopsy of my cervix. And then another six months later, another freaking colposcopy! It’s been a year, HPV. Move on, god damn it.

Yes, you helped me end a relationship that wasn’t healthy for me. Yes, you made me more confident in my womanhood and taught me that adoption and surrogacy is an option and that I don’t have to carry a baby to have a child or to be a mother. And that having children may not be my life path and that’s okay.

I guess you also made me healthier. I became a vegetarian for a year and detoxed my body. I’m even taking awesome vitamins that my body loves. I also am more adamant to use condoms when having sex and to not pick up nasty habits like smoking, since all of those things will keep you at bay, if not help my body F you up!

You also made me stronger. I feel like I can combat anything because once you’ve come to terms with the fact that you could get cervical cancer or may not be able to carry a child, well, you become a mental and emotional bad ass. I’ve even wanted to share my experiences with others, let them know that even though HPV is a quote, unquote “sexually transmitted disease,” it isn’t something that should overrun one’s life or cause embarrassment. I wanted to tell others that it’s okay and that most everyone has it once in their life. Right now, you’re bothering 79 million Americans, most of which are women who don’t even know that you’re there. Thanks to you, HPV, I’m telling them now.

I’m not excited about you being here again. I will admit that I’m a little more stressed by your presence. But I can’t deny all that you’ve done for me. You made me more aware of my health and my sexual interactions. You made me mentally and emotionally stronger. You helped me get rid of unnecessary stress triggers in my life. You even got me writing this so that others can become more educated about HPV and know that they aren’t alone in these battles.

But you do have me wondering, why are you back in my life? What will you teach me this time? It’s been another freakin’ year of you squatting on my cervix and so far, it’s been a less stressful experience. Perhaps, that’s what this second time around is all about.

My most recent results came back and it looks like you’re fading away, though you couldn’t be any more god damn slow about it, could you? Another surgery just isn’t on the table yet, as I’m determined to make my body kick you out naturally – again. You’ve done some pretty cool things for me, HPV, but don’t get it twisted. We’re not friends. I hate your stinking guts. Nobody likes you, HPV, and I wish you would die.

As soon as I can, I’m evicting you from my body. Bye-bye, bitch.

With hate, yours truly,

Your Frenemy

One woman wrote a sassy letter to her HPV and she realizes an important role HPV played in her life -- past, present, and future.

Photo by Maigh via Flickr

Alex Temblador
Alex Temblador is the founder and editor-in-chief of Fempotential.com. She’s a full-time freelancer with dreams of being a full-time novelist and blogger.
Alex Temblador

Alex Temblador

Alex Temblador is the founder and editor-in-chief of Fempotential.com. She's a full-time freelancer with dreams of being a full-time novelist and blogger.