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Wellness Guide: Cervical, Ovarian and Uterine Cancer

Cervical Cancer Survivor: Regina's Story

"My doctor found early signs of cervical cancer during a routine Pap test while I was pregnant. I was doing the straight thing for a minute. I hadn't been having Pap tests regularly before that. We think that I was infected with HPV [human papilloma virus] during a sexual assault. Unfortunately, many of us are victims of childhood sexual trauma. I was lucky. Although being pregnant may have activated my HPV, it also meant that I was getting screened more regularly so my doctor was able to find my cancer early.

That was 17 years ago. I have friends who won't have a Pap test because a doctor told them that lesbians don't need them, or because they are butch and are embarrassed about the test. Some have been victims of sexual trauma like me, which also makes it harder to have a pelvic exam and Pap test. But its so important to get screened. If a doctor tells you that you don't need a pap test because you don't sleep with men, tell them they are wrong. HPV can be passed between women too. Sometimes you just have to take a stand. Do it for yourself, don't die from embarrassment." – Regina, age 37

Ovarian/Uterine Survivor: Nia's Story

"Looking back, I see that I did have some symptoms but at the time I just didn't recognize them as symptoms of cancer. For one, I just didn't feel right. My stomach was bloated and I had some intestinal problems but I just couldn't put my finger on what was happening. One day I had a tiny drop of blood between my menstrual periods. It wasn't a lot, but it was unusual so I called my doctor and made an appointment. I later found out that unusual bleeding or spotting between your period can be a sign of uterine cancer. It can also be caused by a lot of other things too, but it is worth checking out. I had a transvaginal ultrasound and they found both ovarian and uterine cancer. I was lucky, both were diagnosed very early and have been treated successfully.

"I have a long history of cancer in my family, including several cases of ovarian cancer. Some of it I didn't even know about until I was diagnosed. Sometimes when we are not close to our families we don't have access to information that may affect our health, or put us at greater risk for cancer. We always say it is important for us to know our history. It's also important for us to know our health history too. Because I knew about some of the cancer in my family my doctor was able to order the ultrasound without having to wait to rule out the other things it could have been. Because I listened to my body and knew my health history I can say that I am a survivor." – Nia, age 55