Friday, September 16, 2011

Gimme a H! Gimma a P! Gimme a V!

So Michelle Bachmann has been speaking out against the great threat to women, a vaccine that can prevent HPV, which can cause cervial cancer, because she claims that they can be harmful and have effects that will ruin the lives of us poor women. Please check out this article from my favorite magazine, Bitch, that explains and links to some great information.

When I was 20 and in college in the great state of Minnesota, I got a call from my doctor back home. My yearly tests had come back with abnormal results and I needed to come back in for more testing. I asked if I could do so on my next school break since home was three and a half hours away and I did not own a car. They told me that I needed to see them that Friday or Saturday. I was reluctant to make an appointment until they said "pre-cancerous cells". I made the appointment.

I was supposed to go on a sorority convention trip to the twin cities that weekend. But my bf agreed to drive me back home and I fired off an email to my soroity president and advisor. I do not know what, if anything, I told my roomates ( 2 of the 3 were also in my sorority) but I had mentioned the possiblity of cancer and HPV in my email to the head honchos. My president demanded a note from my doctor and she campaingned to get me kicked out for missing this big deal meeting. Our advisor was very curt with me about it too and while I was able to stay on, I did not feel the same about it. Neither of them ever asked me how the doctor's visit went or what the results were and I did not feel the need to share with them. So I do not think I mentioned it to mroe than one or two other girls in the group.

I could write a book about my mixed experience with this sorority, but this took the cake to me. I had very little support at the time. My mom was busy with her divorce and my sister's illness, all of my college friends did not know or were at the convention, and my boyfriend, while earnestly helpful could not really give me the ladies' perspective I needed. And the response I got when I told two people who were in a position of leadership sent me the message that going was a poor choice and if I had to go then fine, but between worrying about how my probable cancer would devestate my already crumbling family and crying my eyes out while doctors scraped and proded me, I had better damn well get a note that explained why I miss sorority pooloza.

The tests that I went through that weekend were painful and scary. So much so that I do not really want to go into them but let me just say if you have ever had a biopsy on the inside of your lady parts then you know what I mean. While I came out negative for cancer, I do have a strain of HPV and had to have tests monthy for over a year to make sure no cancer cells appeared.

So I am not surprised that ladies aren't talking about HPV and when they do they feel like they should just shut up about it. HPV affects so many people  - many of whom are men who might be passing this on to their sexual partners. And while Michelle Bachmann might say that these vaccines will cause harmful effects and right-wingers will say that they will turn young girls into sex mainiacs, in my case it has kept me from getting a more harmful strain of this virus and keeps me one step away from cancer.

Also, please watch yesterday's Colbert Report for great coverage of this issue!

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