In reverence to Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, we thought we’d shed some light on the disease that was diagnosed in 11,270 women in 2009. According to the Mayo Clinic:
“Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers that affect a woman’s reproductive organs. Various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, play a role in causing most cases of cervical cancer.
When exposed to HPV, a woman’s immune system typically prevents the virus from doing harm. In a small group of women, however, the virus survives for years before it eventually converts some cells on the surface of the cervix into cancer cells. Cervical cancer occurs most often in women over age 30. “(Mayo Clinic)
“Lack of screening is the most significant risk factor in developing this disease. It is usually a slow-growing cancer that may not have symptoms, but can be found with regular Pap tests (a procedure in which cells are scraped from the cervix and looked at under a microscope)”, according to The National Cancer Institute).
According to CervicalCancer.org: HPV is sexually and non-sexually transmitted. There are more than 70 different types of HPV. Some researchers estimate that this number could be even higher, with up to as many as 200 different types of the virus. Women are at a higher risk than men to get infected with genital HPV. Follow the link above for more information on HPV.
Our friend Meaghan Edelstein, founder of Spirit Jump, beat 3B Cervical Cancer at 28 after a rollercoaster of an experience, read her story here at her blog.
Meaghan's surgery scars don't stand a chance against her tattoo!
She has told her story to millions of people all over the country, but it was almost as if she was sharing it for the first time when I spoke with Meaghan Edelstein, the youngest survivor of terminal cervical cancer.
It was 2007 and Meaghan was a 28 year old law student, like anyone else. She noticed some unusual bleeding that led her to several doctors who tested her, scanned her, and advised her that nothing was unusal. As the bleeding and discomfort increased, she knew that something was wrong but no one would listen to her concerns. She was perscribed anti-anxiety, sleeping pills and, finally, szitchoprenia medication to alleviate what others were claiming as feelings resulting from “over stress due to law school”. A desperate night where she nearly cut open her stomach sent Meaghan to the Emergency Room demanding answers. Something was inside of her and she wanted it out. She knew she was dying.
What the tiny cameras did not see, while looking for cysts and tiny tumors during doctor visits, was a giant tumor that was pushing up against her organs. She was diagnosed with 3B terminal cervical cancer and started on her journey though chemo and radiation. Told that she did not have a chance to live, she ignored the recommendation to give up and pushed herself through treatment, greatful to finally be heard: if nothing, she had a diagnosis.
Today, Meaghan is a survivor. Though her body and life are changed from the experience, she has emerged with a new sense of purpose and appreciation for her life. She knows the answers to questions like “What is it like to know you are going to die” and has experienced the feeling of her body shutting down. An advocate for adoption, Meaghan will be a mother, should she choose to, by adopting one of the many children in this country who are in need of a good home.
Meaghan’s personal blog is straight from the hip, just like her. It’s a great resource for anyone who has been diagnosed with cervical cancer or HPV, a disease that effects a high number of people all over the country. She also has created an organization called “Spirit Jump” that spreads love to people fighting cancer. It’s a great way to show support for a cancer fighter, as an individual or together as a family. Head to her sites to learn more about Meaghan’s “against-the-odds” victory over cancer and ways that you can support other people fighting similar battles all over the country.
Thanks to Meaghan for sharing her story.