I Blamed Bad Bikini Wax But The Doctors Said My Burning Pain Was An STI – Now I’m Facing A Death Sentence
When Anna Heslin started feeling an “unbelievable searing pain” downstairs, she attributed it to bikini wax.
The 44-year-old went to see a dermatologist who was convinced Ann had contracted a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
But after her tests came back negative in January 2021, Ann was subjected to aggressive treatment with antibiotics and steroid cream.
She had discovered that two ulcers had formed on her lips and said nothing was working for the pain and it was getting progressively worse.
Desperate for a solution, Ann, who lives in Louisiana, said she went for a biopsy, which tragically revealed she had squamous cell carcinoma.
Squamous cell carcinoma is a common form of skin cancer and is the same disease that killed Ann’s father in 2010.
It can occur anywhere in the body and develop in the cells that make up the middle and outer layers of the skin.
In most cases, it is often the result of prolonged exposure to the sun or radiation from tanning beds or lamps.
Ann said that ‘she knew in her heart’ that she had cancer and revealed that her father’s cancer journey lasted only five months from diagnosis to death.
Ann, who works in event management, went to have the cancer removed, but during the operation the doctors discovered that the cancer was actually stage three and not stage one which the doctors initially had think.
She said: “I was very shocked, a bit disappointed that it went from stage 1A on the day of the operation to stage 3.
“Because of my tumour, its location, its depth, its [stage] and the margins, it was a very extensive surgery.
Eight weeks later, Ann started chemotherapy which she had for six weeks, followed by 27 cycles of radiotherapy.
She said she is now working on maintaining the health of her skin and using acupuncture to do this.
During her treatment, Ann also developed lichen sclerosus.
This is a condition in which patchy, white skin forms on the vulva, which can cause itching and irritation.
What is squamous cell carcinoma?
Squamous cell carcinoma is a form of skin cancer other than melanoma.
It is a cancer of the keratinocyte cells which are found in the outer layer of the skin.
These cells are mainly found on the face, neck, bald scalp, arms, backs of the hands and lower legs.
It is the second most common type of skin cancer and can:
- appear scaly
- Have a hard, crusty cap
- Raised skin
- tender to the touch
- Sometimes bleeds
After all of her treatment, Ann learned she was cancer free in October 2021.
She now uses medication to treat all the flare-ups she has.
Speaking to Today, Ann’s doctor, Dr Katrina Wade, said some people might think vulvar cancer could be a yeast infection due to symptoms including itching and burning.
She added: ‘But the symptoms of vulvar cancer are persistent and do not resolve in the way you would consider normal.
“I encourage patients to learn about their own anatomy. Just as we teach women about breast self-examination, you need to know what your skin looks like in all areas of the body, even your private parts.
“You can notice any early changes that might be new or different.”
Ann said she is now trying to raise awareness of the condition in hopes other people will learn to spot the signs.
This article originally appeared on The sun and has been reproduced here with permission.