Cervical cancer, which is cancer that happens in the tissues at the base of the uterus, affects thousands of women each year. There are routine screening tests that can discover abnormal cells before they are fully cancerous, so it is possible to treat cervical cancer before it spreads throughout the body. However, many women miss the early warning signs of cervical cancer, and then they end up with late stage cancer that is harder to get rid of. A young woman, 24 year old Heather Keating, is sharing the story of her struggle with cervical cancer so that more people can be aware of what to look for.
Normally, a gynecologist can perform a Pap smear that alerts the doctor to any abnormal cells, but most doctors do not start performing these tests until women are 25 because younger women do not have a high cervical cancer risk. Since she was so young, Heather’s general practitioner told her she was not entitled to a free Pap smear to check for cervical cancer yet. Even though Heather had started bleeding when she was not on her period, no one thought she had cervical cancer at first, just because of her age.
However, the bleeding continued to worsen, and Heather noticed that she was also bleeding after having closeness. After three months of this, the bleeding was so bad that Heather was actually anemic. Eventually, she was able to convince her doctors that something was wrong, and Heather was diagnosed with stage one cervical cancer. Fortunately, an MRI scan confirmed that the cancerous cells had not spread throughout Heather’s body. During stage one cervical cancer, all cancerous cells are confined to the cervical tissue, so Heather’s cervix was removed with surgery. Heather has now recovered from the surgery, and so far, no other cancerous cells have been found in her body.