You may have heard my story before. The quick version – I was diagnosed at age 25, had a radical hysterectomy shortly after my diagnosis, and was left infertile and depressed, certain that no one would ever marry me.
But my story is just one of many cervical cancer stories.
There’s Christine. She was diagnosed at 30, also had a radical hysterectomy with chemo and radiation, and ended up without the ability to have children with her husband.
Heather. She had two young kids when she was diagnosed, a happy life as a 5th grade teacher, and a rough treatment schedule that left her exhausted and worried about leaving her young family without a mom.
Kelly. She was a gymnast, a newlywed, a woman passionate about following her dreams, and a woman who died from cervical cancer at the age of 33.
And there are many more stories…some of women who have gone on to have wonderful full lives and some of women who died way too young from a disease that we can now prevent.
I was lucky that my cancer was found early. And women today are even luckier because we have new and improved tools to help protect us from this disease!
So how can you protect yourself? Here are our 5 top tips for preventing cervical cancer:
- If you’re 26 or younger, or your kids are 26 are younger, speak with your healthcare provider about the HPV vaccine.
- If you are 21 to 29, go get a Pap test.
- If you are 30 or older, go get an HPV test. You may end up getting an HPV test and a Pap test, or just an HPV test. Either option is effective.
- If you have HPV or your Pap is abnormal, keep checking in with your doctor or nurse. Get re-tested or get treatment if needed.
- Even if you’ve been vaccinated, you still need to get tested.
Don’t let MY story be YOUR story. Don’t let Christine’s story be your best friend or sister or mom’s story. Don’t let Heather’s story be the story of your neighbor or cousin or daughter. And don’t let Kelly’s story be any woman’s story ever again.
Get vaccinated. Get tested. And if needed, get treated. Help us to eradicate cervical cancer so no other woman has to suffer or die from this preventable disease.