My mother contracted HPV when she was a young woman. She was Catholic, had one sexual partner—her husband (my father). I love my father, but the honest truth is that he had had multiple sexual partners prior to marrying my mother. My mother did not know that she had HPV. She only found out in her early thirties, after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
It was a very scary time for me. I was very young and did not understand what was happening. Cancer was, and still is, a scary word for any adult, but it is especially so for a child. My mother received the care she required and recovered, so her story is a happy one.
When I was in my mid-twenties, Planned Parenthood was offering free HPV series shots to women of my age. When I learned about this I immediately booked my appointment, despite not being sexually active. When my aunts heard of this, they thought this service was promoting both premarital and unsafe sex. I could not believe it! Their own sister had contracted the virus by “following” all the “rules.” I received the shots to hopefully be a role model not only to my younger cousins, but to all women, of all ages.
Women deserve these services and Planned Parenthood provides them, free of charge. I want to send them a thank you note. Thank you for having the foresight, for encouraging women to care for their bodies, for allowing me to hopefully be a role model to future generations. Women deserve to be able to protect their bodies how they see fit. Thank you.