I don't often post about controversial subjects, because I am of the belief that the things which set us apart are what make us unique and beautiful. As long as you are informed and rational, I don't care what you do. Your politics, your religion, your health, are all your own personal choices.
But damn it, I can't sit back and be quiet about the HPV vaccine debate anymore.
Did you know that Gardasil and Cervarix (the two FDA-approved HPV vaccines, according to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health) don't just protect against cervical cancer?
HPV, or Human Papillomavirus are "a group of more than 150 related viruses" some of which can cause cancer.
By Jan Christian @ www.ambrotosphotography.com Gardasil_vaccine_and_box.jpg: Jan Christian @ www.ambrotosphotography.com derivative work: Photohound [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0), CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0) or CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Last year a relative of mine went to the doctor for, what she thought were, hemorrhoids. She had suffered with them since her pregnancy more than two decades ago, but this time there was bleeding, and pain.
She didn't just go to one doctor, she went to a handful of them, and they all diagnosed her with hemorrhoids. It wasn't until last December that a surgeon biopsied them and we found out that she had stage 3 anal cancer. Obviously, it's something that is often misdiagnosed.
Did you know the HPV vaccine can protect against it? It can.
Until I researched it, I didn't know it either. As soon as I found out, my 12-year-old daughter got her first dose of Gardasil. It wasn't a pleasant experience. She was up most of the night afterward, shaking and feeling very sick, but by the next day she was fine.
I know that might scare you, but let's take something else into account; I hate to get graphic, but I'm going to. I want you to imagine the body-ravaging of chemo combined with radiation that burned my relative's genitals until her anal area was raw, blistered and bleeding. Then add constant diarrhea. Think about that pain for a second.
Now think about radiation fusing your vagina shut and your labia together so you need to have surgery to repair them. Twice. I won't even mention that she spent four weeks in the hospital or what this did to the inside of her body and how she formed painful adhesions in her intestines. Nope, I won't even go there.
Where I will go is back to two weeks ago when my cousin wasn't feeling well and ended up in the hospital. They ran tests on her and found that she had stage 4 cervical cancer. It had spread to her uterus and a few days ago we found out it was in her bone marrow too. She died last night. She was 41.
She didn't even get a chance to go through the pain of fighting cancer. She didn't get to have the same radiation that caused my other relative to blister and bleed. She also won't get the chance to be at her daughter's wedding or hold a grandchild.
Today, because I don't want her death to be for naught, I am scheduling my daughter's second dose of Gardasil and I will hope that it goes better than the first.
But, more than anything, I hope that it keeps her future free of the pain I have seen in the last year and I will cheer the researchers who discovered they could prevent it.
Will your daughter (or son) get the HPV vaccine?
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