I don’t usually share this much about my personal life, but I think the time has come for me to speak about this particular topic.
Back in April of this year my mom went to the doctor thinking she had a kidney stone. They did an ultrasound and discovered that she didn’t have a kidney stone, she had a mass in her pelvis.
After a few more tests were performed, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. It had already metastasized to her liver, bones and lungs.
The type of cancer was an aggressive one, and she was given approximately 6 months to live. She died 2 months later.
Yes, I have been grieving the loss of my mom this year, and it’s been the hardest year of my life. I chose to keep this private until now because it didn’t feel right to share when it was still so raw and I didn’t want to share from a place that was such a raw and open wound.
My wound has begun to scab over, and I have a message that I want to share that stems from this experience:
Please, I’m begging you, get your annual well woman exam.
You see, cervical cancer is generally very treatable when caught early. My mom’s was stage IV before it was even caught, and her treatment was palliative from the beginning. She never had a chance to fight for a cure.
The reason we get pap smears is to check for signs of cervical cancer. My mom’s last pap smear was a few years ago, and because she was postmenopausal they said she didn’t need to get them anymore. If you’re due for a pap smear, it might save your life.
The other PSA here is to get your HPV vaccine. Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by the HPV virus. I’m in the process of getting my own series of HPV shots.
I know that getting your well woman exam (which includes your pelvic exam, pap smear and breast exam) is an unpleasant experience. It can even be traumatic. So if this is something that’s difficult for you, that’s very understandable.
In this podcast episode, I’m sharing more about this, and I’m giving tips for how to prepare for a well woman exam to make it an easier experience, both from a vulnerability standpoint and from a body image standpoint.
In the episode I’m also going to break down the lesson I learned early in my career while working at a breast cancer center, as well as the full circle moment that brought me here to share this message at this particular point in time.
I hope you’ll give it a listen.
Resources Mentioned in Episode:
Grab a copy of the Back in the Swing Cookbook (all proceeds support breast cancer survivorship research!)
Search for Episode 99-Have You Had Your Pap Smear and Breast Exam Lately? Going to the Doctor When You’re Struggling With Weight or Body Image
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