The size of a one Euro coin – that was the size of cancer cells they took out of my cervix.
And I am sharing this so personal thing with you today because I finally feel ready to talk about it. It took me 5 years and yet cervical cancer is a topic mostly not spoken about. It has become common to discuss breast cancer but cervical cancer – it is just different. Maybe it is because it is the most feminine cancer you can have – it is literally your cervix. And your cervix should bring new life – not cancer.
And for some reasons, which I still don’t understand, I felt ashamed to talk about this cancer. I felt like it was my fault that I got it and that I should just keep quiet about it. But the more I think about this – the more I realised this is so wrong.
Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in females.
When detected at an early stage, the 5-year survival rate for people with invasive cervical cancer is 92%. About 44% of people with cervical cancer are diagnosed at an early stage. If cervical cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs and/or the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 58%.
When diagnosed, cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treatable forms of cancer, as long as it is detected early and managed effectively. Cancers diagnosed in late stages can also be controlled with appropriate treatment and palliative care.
When I was diagnosed with cervical cancer it felt unreal. I was diagnosed, got surgery, was ok. Within 14 days – cancer on the fast lane as it felt. Even now I sometimes have to remind myself how fast the whole thing happened.
Actually a lot of women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and if your health system offers the early smear test you can consider yourself lucky. I still feel numb when I hear stories about younger woman dying from this form of cancer because they did not do the test or because the health insurance did not cover the test.
And its not our fault if we get it. We did nothing wrong. We did not ask for this and certainly we did not want it. But it is our fault if we don’t raise awareness, don’t talk about it and accept that some health systems do not cover the test expenses or even offer them to younger woman. Something needs to change here.
No woman should have to suffer or even die from this form of cancer because the test was not available or too expensive or too late. The health system is failing them. It is failing us. It is failing a form of cancer that is so treatable and dectable yet a tabu to talk about.
January 17 – 22 is Cervical Cancer Awareness Week. Get tested – it does not hurt, its simple. And if you get diagnosed – talk about it. You are not alone – we are not alone.