Jasmine’s Cancer Screening Story
Age at screening: 39
Jasmine made a plan that worked for her when precancerous cells were found during her routine cervical cancer screening.
I was living my best life in my 20s. I had a bachelorette pad and threw parties every weekend with my friends. I was also an entrepreneur running a business with my mom and making sure to stay active and healthy. I was so proud of where I was at the point in my life. I felt invincible, but still knew it was important to keep up with regular appointments and cervical cancer screenings.
I’ve lost several family members to cancer, including my great grandmother and grandmother. Since I knew I had a family history of cancer, I was motivated to stay up to date on my doctor appointments and regular screenings.
I was in my car when I got the call. I saw my doctor’s name pop up on the caller ID and I knew something was wrong before I even answered. I was shocked when he told me I had an abnormal Pap smear (test) and precancerous cells. In those immediate moments, I totally blanked out and only heard bits and pieces. It was like all the sound in the world faded out.
Of course, the first thing I did was call my mom. They were so calm and encouraged me to talk to my doctor about my options and move through the steps. Many questions raced through my mind about these next steps, but one thing that I was focused on was my fertility. Will I be able to have children? In hindsight, if I could go back to the woman in the car answering that call, I would tell her to relax and that she has an amazing support system and is going to get through this. I would also tell her to take everything one step at a time and not jump to conclusions!
I formed a great relationship with my doctors, telling them everything about my family history and my concerns and fears. I tried my best to focus on the solution and not to dwell on the unknown. Together with my care team, we decided the best path for me was to have a LEEP procedure done to remove the precancerous cells. [Editor’s note: LEEP is short for loop electrosurgical excision procedure. It is a technique that uses electric current passed through a thin wire loop to remove abnormal tissue.]
Just one year after the procedure, I gave birth to my son Isaiah. If I hadn’t been staying up to date with screenings, catching the precancerous cells and getting early treatment, I know I may not have the quality of life I have today and may not be able to spend as much time with my son. My message to anyone who may be behind on screenings is simple: get caught up and try not to put things off. I think that telling these stories can be therapeutic, but also could set an example and encourage more people to connect to care. I firmly believe that being able to make choices about your health gives you a sense of power. I want everyone to know how easy and important these screenings are, and that cervical cancer is preventable.