Anik's story: how to protect yourself from cervical cancer
Updated: Sep 20, 2019
8 months after having her second baby boy, Anik asked her doctor for a IUD, a contraceptive device placed inside the uterus. That's when she was diagnosed with stage 1b1 cervical cancer at 32. Today, she shares why we need to pay close attention to our bodies, know the signs of cervical cancer and do our regular Pap smears.
I never expected to have cancer. I thought I was young and healthy and that just wouldn’t happen. I work out regularly, I eat healthy, I get plenty of rest and I had never had any health issues.
What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer develops in a woman's cervix; the entrance to the womb from the vagina. The cancer is due to the abnormal growth of cells on the cervix that have the ability to invade or spread to other parts of the body. Read more about cervical cancer.
How is cervical cancer diagnosed?
Cervical cancer is commonly diagnosed through a Pap test (or Pap smear) or an HPV test, followed by a biopsy.
After having Nolan, I went for a check up with my family doctor. As we didn’t want anymore babies, I ask for a IUD. That's when my doctor saw a lesion on my cervix and did a smear and HPV test. I then went for a biopsy. You never forget the day you're told you have cancer - that was exactly 1 year after my dad passing.
*An IUD is an intra uterine device put inside the uterus to prevent pregnancies.
What is the treatment for cervical cancer?
The most common treatment for cervical cancer is surgery and/or a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
On July 11th, I had a radical hysterectomy. I'm now in remission thanks to early detection.
Who is most at risk of cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is most commonly detected in sexually active women due to the HPV virus.
I’ve always done my smear tests. And surprisingly, inserting my IUD post baby is what caught my cancer. I’m grateful everyday that it was caught early, and consider myself to be a healthy person. It can truly happen to anyone - so important to pay close attention to our bodies.
Know the signs of cervical cancer
Cancer does not discriminate - it can affect anyone at any time. Looking back, my body was giving me signals that something was wrong and I simply ignored them. It’s so important to pay close attention, and if you have any doubts - go see your doctor. Never forget that a smear test can truly save your life!
Cervical screening is the best way to detect cervical cancer. However, common signs and symptoms to watch for are:
Pelvic or back pain
Pain during sex
Having those symptoms doesn’t always mean you have cervical cancer and you may have cancer and not experienced any symptoms. So, it’s super important for yourself and those you love that you attend your regular cervical screening.
Thank you Anik for sharing your experience and insights. We look forward to seeing you all in the Girls Rocking Cancer Community on Facebook or Instagram. You can also reach out to Anik on Instagram @healthy.hip.baby
For more information on all things cervical cancer and HPV, visit Jo's cervical cancer trust.
Anik and Mel