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The important of Cervical Screening

Veronica having chemotherapy
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.

15 Replies to “The important of Cervical Screening”

  1. That’s very sad. It’s important for women to get the HPV vaccine (if they’re of that age) which can help reduce these unfortunate numbers.

    1. I am surprised at the number of women, who know better, but still put it off, especially when so many of us do have abnormal cells if not once but twice.

  2. I survived Cervical cancer, after having to go through a hysterectomy to ensure all of it was cleared out, it was a very hard decision to do this radical surgery at this point, but I was fortunate to find out I had been caught so early that all of it was removed by that surgery. No chemo or radiation needed – I was so relieved to hear that news!

    If my GYN had not had me on a proactive screening due to concerns I was at high risk of developing something like this, I could have been very ill or even have died. The form of cancer I developed was the more aggressive form which went from abnormal cell to cancer in a matter of 3 months. That was all, 3 months… if she had not been so concerned about my consistent abnormal pap tests and had me come back in it could have so much worse for me.

    Regular testing & screening is definitely important, I wish awareness was a big for cervical cancer as it is for breast cancer…

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story, your survival. I’m happy your physician was proactive. A hysterectomy is major surgery but fully justified for you. Your experience has brought both tears of sadness and joy.

  3. I am so very sorry to hear about your sister. You must miss her so much. She was so young. I DO know the importance of screening. At the age of only 22, I had a smear test as part of a regular check-up and was also found to have pre-cancerous cells. I had several biopsies over the next three years to remove them all (I was just about to move to Japan, after graduating). I had the same problem again when I had my first child at age 37 (only child) – they came up again and I had laser surgery. Since then I have had annual check-ups. It is SO important, and I would also truly emphasize not only the importance of screening, but also not to wait until middle age to have it done…

    1. Thank you Emma, the loss of Veronica was and is still hard, particularly for her nine year old daughter. I am happy to hear they were able to remove all of your cancerous cells, three years though, that must have been quite scary for you. I have only had to have them removed once thankfully but each time a Pap smear comes back abnormal I am a tad frightened. If I forget to go for a pap test, my family physician will send me a letter, reminding me to come in. I have yet to forget.

      1. Yes, it was scary. It hardly seemed real at the time, especially as I did not feel ill of course… No, it is always at the back of your mind, isn’t it… I hope the little girl is doing OK. She must miss her mother terribly.

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