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:
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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