December 29th, 2009

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month: My personal battle with cervical cancer

by Jacqueline Whitmore
Jacqueline Whitmore speaking at the National Cervical Cancer Coalition Convention

Jacqueline Whitmore speaking at the National Cervical Cancer Coalition Convention

My mother always said that a person’s life can change with one phone call or visit to the mail box. As usual, she was right. One early morning in August 2001, I received a call from my gynecologist. She called to tell me that my Pap smear was abnormal and that I had something called adenocarcinoma in situ.  In other words, I had the early stages of cervical cancer!

Prior to that exam, it had been four years since my last check-up. Why waste the time and money to pay for a Pap smear if you don’t have any weird symptoms, right? I was fit and healthy — or at least I thought so. WRONG! I was in such disbelief when the doctor called that I asked her if we could wait and do another screening in six months…just to be sure. She said, “absolutely no,” and instructed me to see an oncologist immediately. In December 2001, I checked into the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center to have a hysterectomy. Fortunately, my cancer was not invasive and today I am cancer-free. But not every woman will be so lucky.

Did you know that nearly 4,000 women in America will die this year from cervical cancer? This cancer is largely preventable and raising public awareness can save lives. That’s why I am on a crusade to help other women recognize the importance of getting screened annually. January is the perfect time to do this as the U.S. Congress has designated January as Cervical Health Awareness Month.

Times may be tough and money may be tight right now but please don’t put off getting your annual well-woman exam. If I had waited any longer, I might not be here today to tell you my story.  Please help me spread the word about Cervical Health Awareness Month and the importance of getting screened. To learn more about how to detect, treat and prevent cervical cancer, visit the National Cervical Cancer Coalition’s website.

If you want to save lives and you know someone in the media business who has influence to help get these professional, high quality public service announcements (PSA’s) on air, please direct them to this website: http://newsinfusion.com/video_details.php?videoId=409.

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