Watch for symptoms, young cervical cancer patient urges women in cautionary tale
An Irish woman who was diagnosed with cervical cancer at just 24 is urging other women to pay attention to potential symptoms and to get tested for the disease.
In a candid piece, Heather Keating talks about how her healthy life quickly turned upside down. She’s sharing her story about the warning signs she faced before her diagnosis.
“Health-wise I was great. I ran every evening, did yoga and was always full of energy,” Keating wrote in an opinion piece published in the U.K.’s Independent newspaper.
“It was around this time however when I started to notice bleeding between my periods. It was nothing major, and I put it down to my pill. Then I began to bleed after sex,” she said.
Keating went to her doctor for help but was told that she didn’t qualify for a Pap test until she was 25. But the symptoms continued and she was diagnosed with anemia.
It wasn’t until she was referred to a gynecologist that she learned she had pre-cancerous cells on her cervix.
“This is when I began to worry. I was brought into a nice, quiet little room with a couch and a box of tissues on the table. I told myself: this is it. This is the room where people get bad news,” she recalled.
Keating was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
“It felt like the floor was gone from underneath me. I looked at my mum with her eyes beginning to fill with tears. My heart was broken and all I could think about was my family,” she wrote.
Using her story as a cautionary tale, she’s now urging women to look for red flags. The symptoms of cervical cancer include:
- Abnormal bleeding between periods, after sex, or after menopause.
- Foul smelling discharge.
- Pain or discomfort in the pelvis or during sex.
While in the U.K., Pap tests start at 25, the Canadian Cancer Society says women should start testing by the time they’re 21. A Pap test is conducted every one to three years, depending on your province or territory’s screening guidelines.
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