Cervical Cancer Awareness Month: A Success Story
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness month. Finding out you have any kind of cancer is life-changing, but women who get cervical cancer face difficult treatment options that could take away their chances of having children.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - January is Cervical Cancer Awareness month. Finding out you have any kind of cancer is life-changing, but women who get cervical cancer face difficult treatment options that could take away their chances of having children.
Dr. Larry Kilgore an oncologist at UT’s Medical Center emphasizes the importance of getting the HPV vaccine. A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine shows developing cervical cancer was reduced by 88 percent in women who had been vaccinated before age 17, and by more than half in those vaccinated between 17 and 30.
“It’s a devastating cancer. These are women- they’re young, they’re in the prime of life in matriarchs or grand matriarchs. A vaccine to save a life is a sure enough vaccine. We’re right in the middle of talking about vaccines,” said Dr. Kilgore.
The American Cancer Society estimates more than 14,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year. Tinisha Key, a cervical cancer survivor, shares her store in hopes of helping others who may face this diagnosis.
“I was 30 years old. I had no children. My husband and I had been married for 9 years,” said Key.
In 2013 Tinisha Key had her world rocked.
“Anybody, regardless of the type of cancer, the commonality is when you hear that word you can’t unhear it. You really don’t hear anything else. I was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma CIN 2. So that was an invasive type of cervical cancer,” said Key.
She sought out Dr. Kilgore to help her with treatment. A hysterectomy would normally be the first step of treatment – but Tinisha wanted to have a child first.
“If we would have followed the guidelines by the book, exactly line by line she would not have had that opportunity. We were blessed to improvise her therapy and give her that window to have children,” said Dr. Kilgore.
After her first child, Dr. Kilgore gifted Tinisha a quilt.
“I gave him a picture of her on the quilt, he was just speechless with tears streaming down his face, he said this is going in my office,” said Key.
She scheduled a hysterectomy shortly after she gave birth to her son.
“I have some closure now and before I never had closure because there’s always that ‘what if’ it comes back in the back of your mind,” said Key.
Tinisha visited Dr. Kilgore’s office on Wednesday for a post-surgery check-up.
“If I can prevent my daughter from experiencing what I have gone through, yes she will be vaccinated,” said Key.
Dr. Kilgore also stresses the importance of screenings. In Tinisha’s case, that’s what helped them detect her cancer early enough to give her the option to have kids.
“We’ve got time to find them and the precancer changes, and that’s what we’re searching for. When we find them we are saving lives and that’s what happened with Tinisha,” said Dr. Kilgore.
Dr. Kilgore says everyone’s screening recommendations are different so talk to your doctor about how often you should get checked. He adds smoking increases your risk of cervical cancer as well.
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