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Woman thought she had yeast infection before being diagnosed with cancer-causing HPV strain

Posted: 4:34 PM, Jan 24, 2020
Updated: 2020-01-24 16:34:02-05
Woman thought she had yeast infection before being diagnosed with cancer-causing HPV strain

EVANSTON, Ill. – A woman suffering from constant irritation thought she had a yeast infection, but she ended up being diagnosed with a cancer-causing HPV strain.

Mary Ellen Ball told the Today Show that she tried to use over-the-counter products to treat her constant itching and pain around her pelvic area, but nothing worked, so she started floor therapy, hoping for some relief.

FILE – In this Aug. 28, 2006 file photo, a doctor holds a vial of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil in his Chicago office. A national estimate suggests that nearly half of U.S. men have mostly silent infections caused by the sexually-transmitted human papilloma virus, and that 1 in 4 has strains linked with several cancers. The study was released Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

However, Ball says the physical therapist in the sessions didn’t note anything wrong with her muscle function, so she suggested getting a Pap smear, even though she wasn’t due for one.

Turns out, cells from the 39-year-old’s cervix tested positive for a cancer-causing strain of human papillomavirus and a procedure was performed to scrape the cells off.

Eventually, during a follow up visit with her gynecologist, Ball asked the doctor to check out a spot on her vulva that was still bothering her. That decision may have saved her life, because a biopsy uncovered precancerous cells on her vulva caused by HPV, Today reports.

In September of last year, Ball says she underwent a laser ablation surgery to remove the precancerous cells.

Since the surgery, Ball shared how difficult her recovery has been.

Related: Three STDs reach all-time highs in the US, new CDC report says

“I am 10 days out,” Ball wrote on OpenDeltaGroup.com. “I am healing with burning and pain, sadness and anger and friends and family that love me more than humanly possible. I am healing by looking at my wound every day.”

Ball wanted to share her story to encourage others to advocate for themselves when it comes to their health and to push for more people to get the HPV vaccine.

“If you are unsure about vaccinating your daughters, I hope this read leads to a loud and astounding yes, yes, yes,” Ball wrote.