Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Passing of an "Angel"

It is with much sadness that I embraced the news of Farrah Fawcett's death. Her recent documentary "Farrah's Story" was difficult for me to watch having dealt with anal cancer in 1991. I wasn't right for three days afterwards having flashbacks of my own treatment. Now, only a short month later, I am dealing yet again with an invasive anal cancer and must face the pain I know is inevitable with more radiation and chemotherapy.

In listening to the news broadcasts of her death, rarely did they mention that her battle was with anal cancer, only cancer. More than likely this is the result of our squeemishness about discussing a body part we all have in common, the anus. Our ingrained teachings of this area being "dirty" only foster our avoidance of a body part we rely on every day.

Farrah's Story failed to mention any connection to HPV (the human papilloma virus) which is responsible for 90% of anal cancers. I found the documentary confusing in the sense that I felt dropped in the middle of the story. We start off with her already at a Stage 4 cancer with metastasis to her liver. There was no mention of how they came to find this cancer. What symptoms did she have? Was she aware that this was caused by HPV? Did she have any prior history of HPV? Research has shown a high correlation between women who have had cervical dysplasia or cervical cancer as also having anal dysplasia and anal cancer. With nine million people watching this documentary an opportunity was sorely missed to inform so many of this potentially killer virus and that there is a vaccine available to prevent the most common high risk strains, those most often responsible for these cancers.

Then again, because HPV is sexually transmitted it often brings with it shame and embarassment for the patient and scorn and ridicule from others, the misinformed as well as the misguided and judgmental. But HPV has also been shown to cause 25% of head and neck cancers and 25% of lung cancers so regardless of its mode of transmission, the virus does not descriminate when causing cancer within the body.

My prayers are with her friends and family while they wrestle with the void left by her passing.
I look ahead to living through what everyone else just watched in her documentary (minus the trips to Germany of course). I sincerely hope that in the sequal, they will focus on the forest and not just the tree. That they will provide more information to increase awareness of HPV, screening tests, symptoms (many times of which unfortunately there are none until it is too late) and the vaccine which can prevent it.

The time has come to bring HPV and anal cancer out of the shadows!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's NOT all about cervical cancer!

My heart goes out to anyone with cancer. I've been there. I'm there again now. However, when it comes to HPV frankly I'm tired of hearing about HPV and cervical cancer when HPV has been shown to cause so many other cancers as well and these seem to be overlooked in many instances.

I was recently told that my "survivor" story really would not be applicable for inclusion on a particular site because my survival dealt more with HPV induced anal caner (although i have had carcinoma in situ involving the cervix, vagina and vulva as well). I find this appauling. We should all be in the same boat, moving in the same direction, one of awareness and not just that HPV can cause cervical cancer but all the other cancers as well!

So I'm a survivor, I'm just not a survivor of cervical cancer! What is wrong with these people? What is wrong with the FDA limiting the use of the HPV test to only cervical specimens? Aren't they testing for the virus? So if that virus also causes these other cancers, shouldn't they be allowed to use the test for screening of those cancers as well? Why, when the FDA updated the Gardasil literature last year to include vaginal and vulvar carcinoma in terms of prevention with the vaccine didn't they include anal cancer? It's the virus that can cause the potential cancer isn't it? Yes! So why limit it's use to only the detection of cervical cancer?

I applaude those with the courage and fortitude to endure the tortuous treatments involved with having cancer regardless of which type of cancer you have. I just don't like being treated like a "second class citizen" because I have a cancer (while still caused by HPV) that isn't being recognized.

Monday, June 22, 2009

PET Scan tomorrow............

Tomorrow I begin yet again another journey with the ravages of HPV. Actually, I've been traveling this particular portion of the journey for almost a year. It has consisted of dealing with multiple surgeons who insisted everything looked "normal", not having done biopsies during an earlier surgery and having to undergo yet a second surgery just to do these biopsies and being told words that over the years have become all too familiar "I don't know how to treat you."

Finally I resorted to going out of state to Duke Cancer Center in North Carolina where I underwent surgery for the purpose of removing what had been diagnosed as anal carcinoma in situ (cancer of the anus in place - not invasive or spreading). After being delayed for months by doctors unwillingness to listen to me, the patient, their lack of knowledge in how to treat HPV related cancers and of course let's not forget delays from the insurance company removal of an in situ lesion became instead a pathological diagnosis of invasive anal cancer with positive margins.

My options at this point are radiation therapy and chemo. I've already been down that road before so additional radiation therapy severely compromises being able to maintain sphincter control and possibly having to undergo an APR (abdominoperitoneal resection) with colostomy.

I will be blogging as the days and weeks progress with updates regarding my treatment, my current condition and how I am tolerating treatment. I believe it is important for others to understand the full impact of this virus and how it can change your life - forever!

Remember to check out the website:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

If it walks like a duck...............

Being in the Western medical field for many years I have obviously been trained in this form of medicine. However, I do believe that Eastern medicine can have advantages. Eastern medicine has been using herbs and plants for centuries many of which Western pharmaceutical companies utlize to make common medications used here in the United States.

Most certainly eating a healthy diet, taking vitamins and mineral supplements and other positive healthy lifestyle changes can help boost your immune system which plays a large if not the largest part in the bodies ability to keep the virus in a dormant (asymptomatic) state.

However, when it come to more advanced conditions of dysplasia whether it be CIN2/3 (cervical intraepithelial neoplaisa), VIN2/3 (vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia) or AIN2/3 (anal intraepithelial neplasia), the majority of which are caused by the human papilloma virus the fact is, you cannot CURE a virus! You can only remove the symptoms which the virus produces, i.e. dysplasia, cancer.

Many may utilize these methods and find their condition has regressed. Naturally they would attribute this to the use of these methods. But there is a percentage of these lesions which will regress on their own and there is no research to prove that these methods are what actually regressed the condition.

Obviously this is an individual choice, but far too many people have also been duped with claims of these types of "cures" for cancer or precancerous lesions having received the name "quack cures" The progression of HPV dysplasia to cancer is not as cut and dried as some may wish to believe. Statistically it can take years but there are those who have gone on to develop invasive cancers within months of their initial diagnosis.

I'm all for people trying various alternative types of medicine (which may also work purely as a placebo effect) but get extremely upset when people claim to have "cured themselves" when their HPV lesions/condition may have regressed on its own anyway. To then push these methods on others to the exclusion of Western medical treatments I believe to be irresponsible. This is potentially another persons LIFE you are talking about.

The more knowledge a person has, the more informed decisions they can make, but let them make those decisions themselves. After all, they are the ones having to live with the consequences.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Welcome to the Any Mother's Daughter Blog! This is an addition to our interactive website ( and will allow those with concerns about HPV or who have been diagnosed with HPV and who wish to share comments or concerns and receive support from those already dealing with this little recognized virus.