by: Mindy Johnson
It’s a new year and the beginning of a new month, how refreshing! Many have great expectations and high hopes, along with an open mind and a positive drive to try and change things in their lives for the better. It’s a fresh new start, a blank page, the very beginning of something new. Excitement is at a high! I’m no different. But January for me means so much more. Why? It’s the month I was diagnosed with cancer just a few years back and coincidentally, it’s cervical cancer awareness month, the very cancer I had.
This January I get to celebrate being cancer-free after a two year battle. And I can’t think of a better time then now to talk about it! Such a time as this! I want to really talk about it, with no shame attached! I believe God has allowed me this time, gave me a voice and spared my life in order to spread such awareness. My survival rate was 14% and with God’s grace, I’m living life big as if 14% is actually 100%.
I want to encourage you all to make yourself important, especially you women out there. We are worth the day off work or the day away from the kids. Appointments with the gynecologist aren’t pleasant or remotely fun, but a yearly checkup could save your life. Honest to goodness. And from experience, a yearly checkup is easier than having to go every six weeks, I promise.
The reality is this. Statistics show that one out of every three persons will get some type of cancer in their lifetime. That’s truth! Statistics also show gynelogical cancer is on the rise, almost surpassing breast cancer. The age of those receiving such a diagnosis get younger each and every day. And the big kicker is this….if cervical cancer is found in its early stage, the chances of eliminating the disease or even putting it into remission is high, however, once cervical cancer has reached the later stages, stage 3 and 4, the rate of survival is a narrow margin, often leading to death, depending on the region in which it spreads. Moral of the story, get checked!
Cervical cancer sometimes gets a bad reputation due to the nature of the beast and HPV, Human papillomavirus. Truth be told, some types of HPV can lead to sexually transmitted disease, while others can cause cancer and not all cervical cancer is caused by HPV and being sexually active. It isn’t a disease of the unclean and we shouldn’t feel ashamed to discuss, but in speaking out, create more awareness to save lives. Let’s talk about it!
When I was first diagnosed, I was asked over and over, one of two questions – What did I do to get it or what symptoms did I have. My answers were always the same….I didn’t choose cancer, it chose me and the only symptoms were heavy bleeding between menstrual cycles and fatigue. Cervical cancer rarely reveals any symptoms more than that, which is why so many never realize they have it. Be your own advocate when it comes to your health. Curiosity can be a good thing. Never be afraid to ask!
In closing, I can’t express my gratitude enough for this little town. I was supported and prayed for by so many while going through this season of life. I feel as if others who have, are or will be going through the same journey deserve that same support. So I do hope you will help me paint this town teal in support of cervical cancer awareness this month. You never know if it will be you!
For every business in town who would like to show support and create awareness for cervical cancer, let me personally bring you a teal ribbon to hang on the doors of your establishment. And if you’ve lost someone to cancer, honor them this month by placing a photo of them in your business. Their memory is part of the fight.
And for everyone else reading this….I challenge you today to make yourself a priority and receive health checkups. If not for your sake, for your family’s sake.
If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s this! The devil and cancer have a lot in common. Both want to make us believe our God has no power and both could care less who they take out, neither discriminate.
Let the excitement of a new year get you excited about getting healthy by means of checkups. Such a time as this, get checked now!