26-year-old Ontario woman encouraging cervical cancer screening

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WATCH: A young Ontario woman who was recently diagnosed with cervical cancer is sharing her story. She's doing so in hopes it will help people who are also fighting the disease, while encouraging other women to get tested. Aaron Streck reports. – Oct 29, 2019

A young woman who was recently diagnosed with cervical cancer is sharing her story in the hope it will help those fighting the disease, while encouraging other women to get tested.

Brooke Brantnall makes daily trips from Peterborough to the R.S. McLaughlin Durham Regional Cancer Centre in Oshawa for treatment.
The 26-year-old was diagnosed with cervical cancer back in January.

“I hadn’t had a regular pap since my daughter was born, that was just something not in my mind after having a kid,” said Brantnall.

For the past six weeks Brantnall has been going through chemotherapy and radiation. Since being diagnosed, she’s been advocating for others to get tested.

READ MORE: Lakeridge Health implements new robot to help produce chemotherapy treatment

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“Just in our friend group alone there’s four girls that didn’t know and one girl actually has cancer as well as me. So two HPV and two cancers out of four girls that are in the 24-26 age range is scary. When we all think about getting the HPV vaccine in Grade 8 and that’s supposed to cover us,” said Brantnall.

Every year, about 750 women in Ontario will get cervical cancer and 160 people will die from it. Lakeridge Health says getting screened regularly is vital because it can detect abnormal cells that could become cancerous.

“Between the ages of 30 and 50 women find it hard to prioritize themselves and are focused on their families and other responsibilities that they have. The earlier that we treat people, the more we’re able to treat them before it becomes a cancer and the less likely they are to live with a cancer,” said Dr. Julie Ann Francis, Lakeridge Health Gynecologic Oncologist.

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Women over the age of 21 are encouraged to have a pap test every three years, but doctors say one in three women in Ontario aren’t doing so.

“Fortunately, [Brantnall] did have some testing which allowed us to identify this cancer at an early enough stage where it will still be possible to cure her,” said Dr. Francis.
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Despite her diagnosis, Brantnall is on the road to recovery.

She wraps up her chemotherapy Tuesday and her radiation next week and says it has been difficult, from being bedridden to having to travel every day.

“I’ll be thankful to have a break,” said Brantnall.

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