SAN ANTONIO — Four out of five people will get an HPV infection in their lifetime. Some of those infections can lead to a variety of cancers.
"I don't have a history of gynecological cancers in my family so it's very rare and it's very surprising for me," said Danielle Billote who is a nurse at University Hospital. She found out she had cervical cancer in December of 2015. She told us, "Unfortunately I did not get the HPV vaccine because it wasn't around and when it was I was already late in the age."
Billote did not get chemo because it was caught so early, and instead had a procedure called a radical trachelectomy. Billote said, "I had my cervix amputated and then I had about 18 lymph nodes from both sides of my pelvis removed just to make sure the cancer hasn't metastasized or spread."
To prevent cervical cancer regular Pap smears are necessary, and that very important HPV vaccine. Two doses of the HPV vaccine are recommended for BOTH boys and girls at ages 11 and 12. but it can be given as early as age nine. After they get the first dose the second one should be given about six to 12 months later. The reason boys need the vaccine too, is because the virus can be spread through intercourse and can lead to several types of cancers.
Billote is now cancer-free and uses her experience to help other cancer patients. Billote told us, "I give them a good perspective and sometimes I tell them hey I'm a cancer patient at two and I'm a cancer survivor too."
She doesn't have kids yet, just dogs, but because the cancer was caught early she is able to have children. Billote added, "Just knowing that I have that option it's really great for me and I feel very grateful."
There is a gynecological cancer support group called Purple Heals. You can check out their Facebook page here.
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