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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Get a Routine Pap Test! Jacqueline Whitmore Stresses Importance of Regular Screenings During January – Cervical Health Awareness Month

Approximately 10,000 American women will learn they have cervical cancer/HPV this year, and nearly 4,000 will die from an advanced form of the disease. January is Cervical Health Awareness Month and I am dedicated to educating women about the importance of the Pap test as a screening tool for cervical cancer/HPV and about vaccines that can further reduce the burden of this devastating disease.

In 2001, I was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma in situ (the early stages of cervical cancer). That's why I feel it’s important to start the year right and make your health a priority. If you are a woman, I encourage you to contact your health care provider to schedule a Pap test to check for cervical cancer. This screening is a crucial part of a woman’s health care regimen, yet one that many overlook.

Sometimes we get too busy with our jobs and caring for other people that we oftentimes forget to care for ourselves. That was my case. I focused so much of my time and attention on my new business that I neglected to get my routine check-ups. I had no symptoms and did not feel sick so I didn’t feel the need to get my Pap test for four consecutive years! It wasn’t until I went to Canyon Ranch Health Resort in Tucson, Arizona for a speaking engagement that I met a nurse who encouraged me to get a check-up. In retrospect, I believe that she was an angel in disguise. If it weren’t for her advice, I might not have gotten tested that year and may not be alive today.

I am also grateful for my OBGYN, Dr. Laura Weston, for using the ThinPrep Pap test, which detected my adinocarcinoma insitu (the early stages of cervical cancer). I recently saw Dr. Weston for a check-up and had my picture taken with her.

Finally, don’t forget to ask your doctor for an HPV test if you are at least 30 years of age or over. Once you reach your 30th birthday, your risk of long-term HPV infection and cervical cancer becomes greater. At that time, you should begin getting the HPV test along with your Pap, no matter what your Pap result. Getting both tests together offers the most peace of mind.

I am happy to report that I am very healthy today. However, if you or someone you love is battling issues related to cervical cancer, there is a website that can help you. It is the National Cervical Cancer Coalition’s website: The NCCC is the only organization dedicated exclusively to helping women address concerns about cervical health and disease.

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