Geraldine’s Cancer Survivor Story

Photo of Geraldine P.
“Get your Pap smear regularly. It really can save your life.”

—Geraldine P., Cervical Cancer Survivor
Age at diagnosis: 62

I’ve been a hairstylist for more than 35 years. I love to read and listen to music. My daughter is in the music business. I’ve worked in New York City for Broadway shows and for Saturday Night Live, but I was a freelance stylist when I found out I had cervical cancer. I never thought I would have cancer, but in 2009, I was diagnosed through the New York State Cancer Services Program. Because of the high cost of insurance for the self-employed, I didn’t have health insurance at the time.

I went to an urgent care clinic because I was having some pain and I wanted to know what was causing it. I had not had a Pap test in recent years, so the doctor performed a Pap. It came back with suspicious findings. I qualified for additional diagnostic tests and treatment through the New York State Cancer Services Program. The clinic referred me immediately to a gynecologist at a nearby hospital. At the hospital, I had more tests, and they showed that I had cervical cancer.

I was shocked, but I didn’t panic. I didn’t cry. I recall feeling what I can only describe as an out-of-body experience that I will never forget. Within a few weeks of diagnosis, I began treatment that included both radiation and chemotherapy. Follow-up tests show I’m still cancer-free, and the outlook for my future is bright! I’m even back to work part-time, and I enjoy staying active.

I want to emphasize to women that it’s so important to pay attention to anything out of the ordinary with your health. And get your Pap smear regularly. It really can save your life.