July 27, 2009

July 27, 2009

In life, we all have defining days that make us or break us, or do both. Days that are marked as a distinct line that divides the before and the after.

For me, that day was July 27, 2009, when, in the early morning hours, my mom lost her battle to cervical cancer. There in that hospital room, with her closest family and friends surrounding her, she took her final breath and was finally free of the pain that consumed her for more than a year.

I was 19, had just finished my first year of undergrad at UNC Asheville, and had no idea how her death would impact the course of my life. But the moment my mom took her last breath, my world was forever changed.

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Let me tell you about my cervix

Let me tell you about my cervix

I will gladly discuss my cervix to save a life.

I wish I would have been this brave, and educated, before my mom was diagnosed with Stage IV cervical cancer. Perhaps she would still be here if I, or someone else in her life, would have simply asked her when the last time she visited the gynecologist was.

I say this because when cervical cancer is caught in its early stages, it is treatable. Cervical cancer also is one of the most preventable cancers. That is why regular screenings, or Pap tests, are a crucial part of women’s health. Pap tests can detect abnormal cell changes that occur in the cervix years before cervical cancer even develops. Early detection truly saves lives — that’s just all there is to it.

I was 17 when my mom was diagnosed and at that age all I could think about was boys and moving away from my small hometown to pursue big city dreams at a college hundreds of miles away. It wasn’t my job to ask my mom when her last Pap test was.

It wasn’t until she was in her final stages of life that I became passionate about fighting back against this cancer that robbed me of my mom.

I was 18 when I got my first Pap test and decided that three minutes of discomfort in the stirrups is worth my life. I have talked openly and honestly about my experiences at the gynecologist and women’s reproductive health since that time, but this is the first full blog post I have written on the subject.

Nobody really wants to talk about cancers of the female reproductive system, and cervical cancer especially carries a stigma with it. Boobs are fine to discuss as a society, but the reality is breast cancer isn’t the only cancer women face.

“More than 12,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and more than 4,000 women will die. Cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer for women worldwide.” (National Cervical Cancer Coalition)

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