January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. This post is in memory of my sister-in-law, Veronica and all of you fighting a diagnoses of cervical cancer.
Veronica passed away July 1st, 2012 at the young age of thirty from cervical cancer. She had given it a good fight, radiation, chemotherapy, and more chemotherapy, but it was not to be, the cancer won. Cervical cancer is preventable when caught early (see: Cancer Care Ontario).
If you were born in Canada, I would hope you are aware of the importance of the “Pap test”. It is not painful, may be somewhat embarrassing for some but is necessary to find precancerous cells. A Pap test is preformed in the office of your family physician by your physician. Sadly my sister-in-law was from Guyana where Pap tests are not routinely given. So when Veronica’s cancer was found, it was already too late, the cancer had embedded itself in her cervix, and neither the radiation nor the chemotherapy would change that for her. You can read more about Veronica here: Cancer Sucks and Look Good Feel Better Workshop.
I have regular Pap tests; mine are yearly because I have had abnormal results. The first time these “precancerous cells” were found, my gynaecologist cauterized them right in his office. It was not painful, there was some bleeding afterwards (the doctor will give you a sanitary pad), which went away in an hour or so. I was checked again in six months, and six months after that, then the Pap tests became yearly.
Cervical Screening can save lives, encourage your daughters, friends and remember to have one for yourself. January is Cervical Cancer Awareness month.
About twenty years ago my great aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was in her early seventies. Up to that diagnoses, she was a very active senior. She was still driving her own car, picking up my grandmother almost every day so they could go to afternoon bingo, a favourite activity of theirs. The cancer diagnoses was not good. My aunt soon started treatment, but it took a toll on her and with no one at home to help her, it became obvious to her immediate family that she could no longer care for herself. It wasn’t long before she ended up in hospital.
My aunt was admitted to the Henderson General Hospital now the Juravinski Hospital in Hamilton. As time went by, it became obvious that my aunt was not getting better. On one of my visits to see her, my grandmother, and uncle were already there when I entered the room. I knew things were not right, my grandmother, as gently as she could, told me, my aunt, her sister had had a stroke, and lost her ability to speak and eat.
I continued with my daily visits, but her condition worsened. She had difficulties swallowing, so I would give her mouth moisture using one of the sponges meant for brushing teeth. Then one day, I noticed her i.v. was gone, her children along with doctors had decided a course of action. It was a course that many of us did not approve of, the i.v. was back but was not doing anything, it was there for appearances only. My aunt was soon moved to a room by herself, it seemed some thought she would only last a few days without nourishment. That didn’t happen, and she was moved back to a ward. It took over a week for my great aunt to die.
Now I cannot say whether or not my great aunt would have chosen assisted suicide, but it should be a choice. It’s time for our government to talk about it. What do you think?