Cervical Cancer Awareness Month – January

By: Mindy Johnson

Welcome 2019! We just turned the page on the calendar to reveal a whole new year and new month. Some imagine it as a clean slate, a place to start over, a cheer to new beginnings. I see it as a honor and a privilege, a joy, yet also a time of remembering and of thankfulness. January is cervical cancer awareness month and I am a stage 4 cervical cancer survivor.

Coincidentally, January is also the month I was diagnosed. How ironic! With that being said, and as most cancer survivors know, we have ‘coined a phrase’ when pertaining to our own occasion, it’s our cancerversary! Every year at this time, I am grateful and truly revel in knowing how blessed I am and what a miracle this is to witness another year. By all statistics, I shouldn’t be able to, but because of God’s grace and mercy I am allowed. That’s something you don’t take for granted. And it’s the driving force behind my passion to advocate so hard and to make women feel important enough to put their health at the forefront and get yearly checkups. You are loved!

Hopefully, in the weeks ahead, you will hear stories from other women in our area, who have battled gynecological cancers or in memory of someone who has. Please take a moment to read their encouraging words pertaining to this as well.

Also, again, take notice as you will see teal and white ribbons going up in store fronts as a symbol of support, not only for me, but for others, those before me, those still battling and for those to come. If you would like a free teal and white ribbon to place, please stop by the Douglas County Herald office.

Throughout the month of January events covering cervical cancer awareness will be happening. On January 18th, the Ava Bears Boys basketball team will be wearing special teal and white warmup shirts before the game and free teal and white cervical cancer giveaways will be tossed to those in the crowd by cheerleaders. To end the month with fun through song and dance, a Zumbathon is planned at the MOCH Wellness Center in Ava, on January 26, 10 am until noon. The event is by donation only and all money will benefit women in our area who are diagnosed with a gynelogical cancer through GYNCA, an organization whose focus is to  help women using their program Fueled For Hope to provides gas cards to women while in treatment to get back and forth to  doctor appointments. 

We live in an amazing community!

In closing, knowledge is key, so listing the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer I feel is always a good way to advocate! If you are having any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate to get checked! If you don’t know where to go or can’t travel, we are fortunate to have a OBGYN, Dr. Taylor, right here in Ava at the MOCH clinic as well and they even work on a sliding scale for those who don’t have insurance or have little income. Let this be the year you lay all the excuses down, you are worth it and you are loved!

Cervical Cancer Signs and Symptoms: The signs and symptoms of cervical cancer vary according to the stage of the cancer. In the early stages, there are generally very few symptoms. This is why regular screening is so important, as it is all too easy for the cancer to advance undetected.

Why There Are Few Early Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer:

One of the reasons why this disease is so asymptomatic is because of how it grows. It develops slowly, and it is deep inside the body, where there are few feelings. The direct effects of the dysplasia are often not noticed, unless the cancer develops next to a strong blood supply, which can lead to unusual bleeding. As the disease progresses, however, symptoms start to become more apparent. Unfortunately, it is often much more difficult to treat the cancer at that point.

Later Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer:

Some of the most common things to look out for include:

1. Vaginal bleeding, which is often unusual and quite random. It often happens after sexual intercourse, after menopause, or between regular periods.

2. Vaginal discharge, which is different in appearance, color, or odor to the normal secretions. It is often watery and bloody with a thick consistency, and it smells quite unpleasant.

3. Painful intercourse, including sudden pelvic pain.

Once the cancer reaches more advanced stages, some of the common signs and symptoms include:

1. Back pain, as it is quite closely connected to the cervix

2. Bone fractures, which means the cancer is very advanced and the body has become weak

3. Swollen lymph nodes, if the cancer has started to spread.

4. Overall fatigue, which cannot be explained

5. Loss of appetite, which generally means the body’s homeostasis has been disrupted

6. Significant weight loss

7. Fecal matter and urine coming out of the vagina, which is a very serious symptom and requires immediate medical attention

8. Swollen legs or pain in leg, which generally appears together with other symptoms

It is very important to remain calm should you experience any of the symptoms described above. Each symptom on its own does not necessarily mean that you are in an advanced stage of cervical cancer, or even that you have cancer at all. Rather, it means that you need to have a physician investigate what is going on. The sooner you do this, the more likely it is that treatment will be successful as well.