Shannon Pethick made a lot of jokes after she was diagnosed with the big C in 2010. The way she saw it, if she didn’t laugh about it, she wasn’t going to get through it.
With the help of her positivity, laughter, great friends and family, and a team of knowledgeable doctors, she did get through it. But it wasn’t easy. It had been 7 years since her last Pap test when Shannon was diagnosed with cervical cancer. It’s a mistake she wants other women to learn from. Now, she’s an advocate with the Canadian Cancer Society for cervical cancer screening.
Cervical cancer is completely preventable and it can be nipped in the bud if regular screening is done. Pre-cancerous cells can be eliminated before turning into anything worse. Cervical cancer can sneakily develop for a long time before developing any symptoms, letting it grow and grow into something fierce inside of you. Shannon had experienced some spotting for over a year before being diagnosed, which she ignored, simply blaming it on stress. An irregularly lengthy period is what finally had her make a doctor’s appointment. In her case, surgery wasn’t an option so radiation and chemotherapy began. She’s been cancer-free since 2011. Learning she had cancer wasn’t the worst news though. Hearing that she couldn’t have children, now that was the unbearable kicker.
In Ontario, screening guidelines suggest a Pap test, which tests for cancer, should be done every three years after the age of 21 or later if the woman isn’t sexually active. The main risk factor of cervical cancer is the human papilloma virus, more commonly known as HPV. Some signs of cervical cancer include abnormally lengthy or heavy menstruation and spotting, like in Shannon’s case, as well as bleeding after menopause and pain during intercourse.
So what’s the moral of the story? What is Shannon really trying to tell us by speaking up with her story? Get tested today, before it’s too late!