Analcancer, Rwrs

How I Overcame Anal Cancer and Threw a Huge Party

No one ever told me my HPV diagnosis could lead to anal cancer. Now I'm on a mission to educate people, save lives and dispel the stigma around this increasingly common disease.

11/10/2020 9:09:00 PM
Analcancer, Rwrs, Hpv, Hpv, Cancer Survivor, Real Women Real Stories, Pelvic Health, Gynecological Cancer, Cancer

Who says good things can’t come from troubling times? While Lillian Kreppel battled analcancer, her friends rallied around her and she even found a new one in ReallyMarcia. Her journey eventually led her to founding hpvalliance. RWRS HPV Read more:

No one ever told me my HPV diagnosis could lead to anal cancer. Now I'm on a mission to educate people, save lives and dispel the stigma around this increasingly common disease.

tomorrow," he said."What's that?" I asked. I really trust this doctor. He explained,"It's like a colonoscopy, but it looks at the anal canal."After we did that procedure, he told me I had a. The good news was that it was treatable.

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So I looked at my watch and said,"All right, let's do this."We followed up with a CAT scan, an MRI, PET scans, many different tests. I learned it was Stage 2 cancer. I never cried or got upset about my diagnosis, although I was in shock. I knew I had to move forward and focus on getting rid of the tumor. I treated it like something I needed to remove, almost like a wart.

I tacked a sheet on my bulletin board charting the days of radiation that I had to get through. It was a standard 28-day treatment, plus oral chemo. Every day when I came home from the hospital, I would cross off a day. AtSloan Kettering, I always had my friends with me. I'm not married, but I have a strong group of friends. They kept me company, supported me and asked any questions that I missed. The providers ended up calling us the Real Housewives of Sloan Kettering!

The first time my oncologist walked into the room, I thought,"Oh my god, is this my doctor?" He looked like he was 12 years old. But he was so good and always listened to my questions. I'll never forget when I was getting fitted for my custom cast — which keeps you in the exact same place every day for radiation — he came over and rubbed my shoulder, asking,"Are you OK?" That gesture meant everything.

My doctor warned me that the treatment wouldn't be a walk in the park. At the beginning I wouldn't feel anything, he said, but toward the end it would get rough. I was OK for the first three weeks — I would walk across town to the cancer center. Then it started to get worse. I was in a lot of pain and had extreme burning when going to the bathroom. I lost my appetite. I stopped walking to the hospital and needed a special"doughnut" to be comfortable sitting down.

Luckily I was usingvaginal dilators, which were a new therapeutic technique to protect my lady parts during radiation. I've since spoken to anal cancer patients who didn't use dilators, and they unfortunately struggle with pain during sexual intercourse.

I stayed very positive throughout my whole treatment. I told myself,"When I'm done with this, I'm having a big party."I threw that party in April of 2018, at my friend's restaurant-bar in Manhattan. I invited my oncologist, my gastro doctor and their nurses, and I had custom plaques made for all of them. Justine Almada, my good friend and executive director of the

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Anal Cancer Foundation, came and spoke because I wanted to have an educational piece.It was a very fun night. We had toilet paper centerpieces, an ass pinata, goody bags with hemorrhoid cream and a big cake in the shape of an ass. It was hysterical! My comedian friend, who's very dirty, performed a set. We played '70s and '80s music, and to my surprise, the doctors were the last to leave.

Lillian Kreppel at her post-cancer party in 2018Then I started volunteering with the Anal Cancer Foundation. The more I talked to people, the more I heard the same story:My doctor thought it was hemorrhoids. My doctor told me to go home and put some cream on it.

It wasn't even on their radar.No one was talking about the HPV connection. I heard from other patients that their gynecologists had missed it, too. One woman had seen a poster in her doctor's office listing all the types of women's cancers, and HPV wasn't even mentioned. In fact, there are seven

, and five of them affect women: cervical, vulvar, vaginal, oral and anal.I kept doing research, and I saw a post from actressMarcia Cross, revealing that she'd had anal cancer linked to HPV. I immediately got in touch with her through a friend, and Marcia was amazing from the moment we spoke on the phone.

Now we've been traveling around the country together for over a year, speaking at conferences and summits about what we've been through in an effort to save lives. We've formed a strong bond — there is no one else I would want to do this important work with. I am so honored to call her my dear friend.

Lillian Kreppel and Marcia Cross at a conference in 2019 Read more: »

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