It’s easy to reschedule that dreaded doctor’s appointment. You tend to keep pushing back and pushing it back. We all know life can get in the way. But what if that appointment could save your life?
January is “Cervical Health Awareness Month” and a chance to remind women how important it is to get screened.
In 2004, Deborah Meade noticed a lump in her neck. She was shocked to learn what it was.
"I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. It was invasive though my entire lymph system," Deborah said.
She was aggressive with her treatment.
"Literally, within four weeks I was in a chemo chair. I had three children at the time. One was seven, one was 11, and one was 15 and I had things to do,” she said.
Meade is one of the many women who have fought and beat the disease.
Cervical cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer deaths for American women, but that has changed over time.
"Since the Pap smear was developed in the 1950s, the incidents of cervical cancer have progressively been going down,” said Dr. Francis Grumbine of GBMC.
Doctors say virtually all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV or the Human Papillomavirus , spread through sexual contact.
“People don’t want to open that can of worms because they think it means that a spouse has been cheating on them and that's not necessarily the fact. The virus can lay dormant for years," Meade said.
Dr. Francis Grumbine, Chairman of the Department of Gynecology at GMBC, said HPV is extremely common.
"HPV is so prevalent in our society that it’s hard not come in contact with it. It’s estimated that eighty percent of the population has been exposed to it or might even have it," Dr. Grumbine said.
Dr. Grumbine said cervical cancer is curable when caught early, but if caught in the advanced stages it can be a challenge to treat.
Country singer Joey Feek and her husband Rory have shared Joey’s battle with cervical cancer in a blog titled, “This Life I Live.”
In recent posts, Rory writes in part, “With tears in her eyes and mine, Joey held my hand and told me that she has been having serious talks with Jesus. She said she told him that if He’s ready to take her… she’s ready to come home.”
Each year approximately 12,000 women are diagnosed in the United States with cervical cancer, which is why it is so important to get screened.
Doctors also recommend the HPV Vaccine.
As for Meade, she’s sharing her story as a way to help other women and has this advice:
"Don’t miss your well woman visits," she said.