Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cervical cancer: A young mother's story

Atlanta, GA
A young Cobb County mother says she has a story she wants parents to hear. At 29, Rachel Chastain is fighting for her life against cervical cancer and Tuesday, she shared her story.

Chastain has had a rough year, trying to balance being a mother with chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.

Chastain has been blogging about her experience with cervical cancer. Viewers can read more about her story by going to her Caring Bridge blog:

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Surviving cervical cancer

Fort Collins, CO
Seven years ago Diane Mullis of Loveland went to her doctor for a regular exam, but it turned out to be anything but regular.

Diane was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Three and a half years after that it came back.

After repeated check up's every few months Diane thought she was in the clear...but the cancer reared it's ugly head once again.

Diane has endured 26 raditaiton treatments and six chemo sessions that basically, as she says, has drained her of her energy. Amazingly however she finds the strength to maintain day care in her home, but does have help.

Most people we speak with who have survived cancer say how importnat support from family and friends is, and Diane is no different.

Diane's daughter Brianna a junior in high school now, is probably her mother's biggest supporter, and Diane says its tough to see what her daughter has to go through.

Now that Brianna is getting close to finishing high school, more than ever Diane is fighting to make sure she's there for Brianna's graduation.

Diane has been part of Relay For Life before, telling us that she's even lost a few friends along the way. She says many people go to the event for many different reasons, but for her it's to hear about what other cancer survivor's are going through and that she's not alone in this battle.

Since we interviewed Diane we have learned from her that her tumor is now gone and she will no longer have to go through chemotherapy or radiation treatment.


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Thursday, February 26, 2009

British reality TV star battles cervical cancer on camera

London, England
A brash British reality show star whose ups and downs captivated the nation is approaching her death the same way she has lived — on television.

Dying of cervical cancer that has spread to her liver and bowels, 27-year-old Jade Goody sees no reason to turn the cameras off now.

Her first foray into the spotlight was in 2002, when she lost at strip poker on Britain's version of "Big Brother." She went on to write her autobiography, star in fitness videos, release a perfume and appear on "Celebrity Big Brother," where she was accused of racism and bullying a Bollywood star, Shilpa Shetty.

To make amends, she went to India last summer to star in its version of "Big Brother." It was there — in a shocking diagnosis captured on television — that she found out about her cancer.

Bald and pale from chemotherapy, pictures of Goody have since been daily fodder in the British press. She says the publicity and profits made from selling her story will help her sons, 4-year-old Freddie and 5-year-old Bobby Jack, and raise awareness of cervical cancer.

On Thursday, a television show documented the weeks before she learned she only has months to live. On Sunday, the cameras will roll at her wedding to 21-year-old boyfriend, Jack Tweed — recently released from prison after serving time for assault and wearing an electronic monitor. Goody will take her vows in a designer dress donated by Harrods owner, Mohamed Al Fayed.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Maryland community rallies around friend with cervical cancer

Crofton, MD
Lisa Johnson of Crofton was a busy mom of five, cheerleading coach and nursing intern when she learned that she had cervical cancer.

Now after eight months of surgery and radiation - and a brief respite when she was declared cancer-free - the 35-year-old has been told she has only months to live.

"When we got the word that Lisa's cancer had come back, (we) got together and started talking," said Regina Good, a friend and co-coach with Johnson.

"(We said) that there's got to be something we can do to alleviate some of the stress on (the family)," she said.

Members of the Gambrills Odenton Recreation Council's community of parents and coaches are stepping up to help by donating time and money to provide meals for the Johnson family.

"I just feel awful for everybody, and if there's anything I can do to help, then I'll definitely do it," said Allison Orange of Odenton.

Orange said she met Johnson four years ago when both of their daughters started cheerleading together. Now, she's donating money to help provide prepared lunches for the children.

"(Johnson) is one of those people that everybody knows and everybody loves," she said. "It could happen to anyone. It scares us all, and we want to help them get through it."

"It's hard, very hard," said Betty Asbury of Glen Burnie.

She also met Johnson through cheerleading, when her granddaughter joined the squad. And she has been working with Good to organize the support.

"My first thought was, 'Five kids, how are you going to care for five kids?' " she said.

Asbury works for Allstate Insurance and collected donations from her co-workers to help provide meals for the family. She's also enlisted a friend to look into putting together a Tastefully Simple fundraiser.

"We've got a lot of things that we're trying," she said. "A lot of this is just done through word-of-mouth right now."

The response to Good and Asbury's appeal for help has been substantial.

"I'll tell you, it's amazing the response you get from people in a time of need, especially with the economy the way it is," Asbury said.

"There's been a tremendous outpouring of help," Good said. "I've got a lot of e-mails and phone calls lately."

Johnson's husband, Eddie, coaches football and basketball for GORC and said the help couldn't have come at a better time.

"It's helpful to know that they're concerned, they're reaching out," he said. "My wife has coached for four years - I've coached, they want to reach out. Right now we're in a deep family crisis."

Lisa Johnson was diagnosed with cancer early last summer, and endured surgeries and "brutal" radiation treatment, her husband said. It seemed successful; she was sent home cancer-free.

"We thought we beat it," her husband said.

But she started feeling sick again. And after a series of tests, doctors recently diagnosed her with recurring cancer, and she started chemotherapy treatments.

"Her doctor said, 'I've seen a lot of patients with her disease and they usually live six months if they respond to chemo,' " he said. "I'm keeping my wife up, but I know that the cancer is all through her body. The nurse told me yesterday, 'You know the only thing that can save her now is a divine miracle.' "

Now, Eddie Johnson is trying to keep up with work at Paramount Vending in Jessup, drive his wife to and from appointments and chemotherapy treatments, and care for his five children: Devonte, 14, Raven, 13, Nicholas, 10, Christopher, 8, and Kara, 6.

"At this point meals would be helpful because she can't really cook," he said. "I'm working here and there, I'm juggling work and this situation."

As a close friend of Lisa Johnson, Good said she was too overwhelmed to think beyond personally helping where she could. It was Asbury's idea to ask the GORC community to help.

When she sent out an e-mail letting everyone know that Johnson's cancer had returned, she said people immediately started to ask how they could help.

"(Our) main focus is doing meals," she said. "We just felt that it would be something not only helpful for them, but also needful for them. They really need it."

But not just any meals; Good specifically requested healthy meals for the family.

"Obviously the kids need that, too, but she's going to need that through her treatment to keep her body strong," she said.

There are other needs, too.

After dropping by the Johnson home one afternoon, she said she realized her friend spent almost all of her time laying on the living room couch.

"I think it would drive anybody crazy if you had to lay on the couch and look at the TV or three walls all day long," she said.

With comfort in mind, Good also is looking for a recliner to donate to the family, offering a more comfortable place for Johnson to rest, and a laptop computer to help her stay in contact with her friends.

Good said she also is concerned for the rest of the family.

"There's a lot of emotions going through that house right now," she said. "There's anger, frustration, fear, sadness. Each of the kids are dealing with it in their own way."

And while she tries to help, "I'm not a professional," she said. "I'm really hoping and praying that we can get the community involved in assisting them in getting not only the family support that they need right now, but also some additional support when Lisa does pass for Eddie and the children."

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

New fertility preservation at NGMC option for cervical cancer patients

Gainesville, FL
In the past, a diagnosis of early stage invasive cervical cancer would usually lead to infertility because of the recommended treatment necessary to cure the cancer. Treatment typically includes a radical hysterectomy and sometimes radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. Over the past decade, there has been an increased focus towards fertility preservation in the treatment of cervical cancer since a little less than half of all women diagnosed with cervical cancer are 45 years old or younger.

“Traditionally, we have been able to offer women diagnosed with cervical cancer fertility preserving options such as embryo freezing, with vitro fertilization (IVF); and ovarian transposition, where we move the ovaries away from the target zone for radiation therapy treatment,” says Andrew Green, MD, a gynecologic oncologist with Southeastern Gyenocologic Oncology, LLC in Gainesville. “But these measures only preserve a woman’s eggs; because of the radical hysterectomy she is unable to carry the child and must use a surrogate. The radical trachelectomy, on the other hand, gives certain women the option of carrying their child to term after treatment for cervical cancer.”

Developed by Daniel Dargent in 1995, the radical trachelectomy is a complex surgerical procedure that removes the cervix; parametrium, or the tissue adjacent to the cervix; pelvic lymph nodes; and a portion of the vagina, then connects the uterus to the vagina. A cerclage is also performed, which is a procedure that involves sewing the opening of the uterus closed to prevent preterm labor if a patient does become pregnant.

“Unfortunately, not all cervical cancer patients are a good candidate for a radical trachelectomy,” says Dr. Green. “There are certain criteria that a patient must meet in order to be considered for this procedure. Such criteria include being less than 40 years old with a strong desire to preserve fertility, no clinical signs of impaired fertility and stage IA-IB1 cervical cancer that shows no signs that it has spread.”

Although more complicated, the success rate of the procedure for treating cervical cancer is equivalent to that of a radical hysterectomy. In addition, according to the MD Anderson Cancer Center, of the approximate 500 patients around the world who have been treated with a radical trachelectomy about half have tried to become pregnant and of those, roughly 60 percent have delivered full-term babies via cesarean section.

“It is wonderful that NGMC is now able to offer this highly specialized procedure through our new Gynecologic Oncology service,” says Tom Enright, director of Oncology Services at NGMC. “Dr. Green has already preformed one radical trachelectomy since joining the medical staff at NGMC. We are proud that women in North Georgia no longer have to travel for this kind of specialized care.”

The Gynecologic Oncology service is a new component of the Cancer Center at NGMC. It is also a relatively new field of medicine. In the early 1970’s, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology identified the need to train people specifically to attend to the surgical and chemotherapeutic needs of patients with cancer of the female genital tract. These disease sites include cancers and precancers of the ovary, uterus, cervix, vagina and vulva. To meet this need, fellowship programs (training in addition to the standard four years of medical school and four years of residency that all OB/GYN’s must complete) were developed. Each year, approximately 33 people are accepted into fellowships in the United States. Currently, there are only 650 gynecologic oncologists in the United States.

For more information about the Cancer Center at NGMC call 770-533-8800 or visit

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Jade Goody's cervical cancer spotlights the disease

The spokesperson of celebrity Big Brother star Jade Goody tells Reuters that Goody has been diagnosed with cervical cancer and according to AFP Goody quits India TV show after cervical cancer diagnosis.

AFP writes that "Goody apparently broke down in front of her fellow contestants on the show -- the Indian version of "Celebrity Big Brother" -- after learning of her test results, which her publicist said revealed she has cervical cancer.
"Jade's stay at the Bigg Boss house has been cut short," the Colors channel said in a statement."

"Jade was really looking forward to her time in the house, but her health is the most important thing," her spokesman told Reuters. "She is going to come home immediately for treatment."

According to the National Cancer Institute "Cervical cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the cervix." There are different types of treatment for patients with cervical cancer.

Different types of treatment are available for patients with cervical cancer. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials. A treatment clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with cancer. When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment. Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment.
Surgery (removing the cancer in an operation) is sometimes used to treat cervical cancer.

Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer. The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy). When chemotherapy is placed directly into the spinal column, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas (regional chemotherapy). The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials.

Information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

We wish Jade Goody and all people suffering from cervical cancer or other types of disease a quick recovery and good treatment.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Miss Black Oklahoma a cervical cancer survivor

Oklahoma City, OK
Oklahoma has a new Miss Black Oklahoma, Ashton Joseph, and she is beating the odds in more ways than one. Not only is she the fourth consecutive Oklahoma City University student to win the state title, but she is also a survivor of a disease that will kill thousands of women this year.

In January, Joseph, 19, was diagnosed with cervical cancer and a few months later, she underwent surgery to remove it. So far, she said, it seems like the surgery was a success.

"It was a really horrible winter,” she said. But Joseph has managed to turn what would devastate most young women into an opportunity to change the lives of others.

"There is such a negative stigma attached to cervical cancer,” she said. "It's like, ‘did you deserve it? Were you promiscuous?' But that's not what cancer is. It attacks your cells.”

"I was not promiscuous,” she said.

That stigma was a hurdle not easily overcome at first. When she competed in the Miss Black OCU pageant in May, she still hadn't come to terms with her cancer. She admits that she was too ashamed to talk about it, even to her closest friends. Only her best friend and her mother knew about her cancer.

Her platform during the Miss Black OCU pageant was entitled "Increasing Exposure to the Arts,” but in her heart, Joseph knew the real message she wants to share is more important. Her real message is that cervical cancer is a disease that attacks 50 percent more black women than white women and that black women are less likely to find out about their cancer before it's too late.

Her most important message is that having cancer is nothing to be ashamed about.

So, for the state pageant, Joseph followed her heart and changed her platform to "Beating the O.D.D.S.” The acronym stands for the newly-acquired determination Joseph learned through dealing with her disease.

The "O” is for "Overcoming” life's setbacks. For Joseph a coping mechanism is her dancing.

"I could get on that dance floor and all my worries were left on that floor,” she said.

The first "D” is for "Determined Destiny.”

"I know that God has a plan for each and every one of us,” she said. "But, you can't just sit back and let life take you in just any direction.”

The second "D” is for "Dedicated Desire.”

"You take your dreams and you run with them,” she said. "You have to fail sometimes, but you have to know what your dreams are.”

The "S” is for "Securing a Standard.”

"You draw a line and you say OK, this is where outside factors are not going to affect me anymore. I control my desires, I control my dreams and I don't let anything else get in the way of who I want to be,” she said. "I won't let anyone define me but me.”

Cervical cancer rarely attacks women younger than 20 like Joseph, but the American Cancer Society estimates that in 2008 about 11,070 cases will be diagnosed, and 3,870 women will die from it.

Along with her new title, Joseph has assumed the heady responsibility of making sure that Oklahoma girls and women, especially blacks, have regular pap smears to screen for cancer.

"We're just not screened properly enough,” she said, referring to black women. "We don't pay enough attention to our health and don't go to the doctor enough.

"Women by nature are caretakers. We take care of every one else's needs before our own. Taking care of our own health should be a priority not just for African American women but for all women.”

"You take your dreams and you run with them. You have to fail sometimes, but you have to know what your dreams are.”

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Early detection essential to preventing cervical cancer

Orlando, FL
Every year in the United States, 11,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 4,000 will die from it.

News 13's Christine Webb explains why education and early detection are such an important part of prevention.

Girl Scouts may be an unlikely audience for a discussion about cervical cancer, but Allison Hicks is a cancer survivor and she is trying to spread the word about ways to prevent the disease.

"I had no idea that this type of cancer even exited," Hicks said.

Hicks was diagnosed three years ago. She learned that cervical cancer is caused by the human papilloma virus or HPV -- which is transmitted sexually.

"Cervical cancer is definitely preventable. It's preventable by not allowing transmission of HPV to the woman," said Dr. Ursula Matulonis, of the Dana Farber Cancer Insitute. More >>
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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Illinois women launch fight against cervical cancer

Springfield, IL
Kyla Travis wants to give hope to women battling cervical cancer. At 28, she had just given birth to her son when she was diagnosed with the disease.

Cervical cancer survivor Kyla Travis of Springfield, 50, left, urges on woman attending a cervical cancer awareness seminar at Hilton Garden Inn, after receiving a gift from Ann Locke, right, an AmeriCorps coordinator following Travis' sharing of her personal story on Wed., Jan. 16, 2008. Jonathan Kirshner/The State Journal-Register

“I was very fortunate. They caught it in the early stages. ... I had my cervix removed, and I was cured,” she said. “I was blessed. The follow-up showed no signs of cancer, and it hasn’t come back. I want to help other people survive.”
The 50-year-old Springfield resident was one of approximately 30 women who met Wednesday to launch the Illinois Women Against Cervical Cancer Program. Its goal is to eliminate cervical cancer by having trained advocates educate women.

The Urban Leagues of Springfield, Tri-County (Peoria) and Champaign County will lead the first phase of the program, which is being funded by the Illinois Public Health Association and the Illinois Department of Public Health Center for Minority Health Services.

The IPHA received a $50,000 grant from Merck & Co. Pharmaceuticals, manufacturers of the new Gardasil cervical cancer vaccine, that was matched by the state.

“We think that’s sufficient to do the demonstration project in the three cities,” said Jim Nelson, executive director of the IPHA.
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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mother's cervical cancer diagnosis brings family closer

December 23, 2007 (El Paso, TX)
For years, the Marquez children have hung their stockings at the fireplace at home. But this year, it's hard to sustain the Christmas cheer.

David Alex Marquez, 18, the eldest child, said he and his siblings don't want toys or gadgets under the tree. This year, the only gift they want is for their mother to get well.

In August, doctors discovered that Sandra Marquez, 37, had advanced cervical cancer. Early last week, the mother of six signed her will and power-of-attorney paperwork.

One doctor recommended she be placed in hospice care, but her own mother, Elsa Marquez, is not ready for that to happen. More >>

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fighting Cervical Cancer in Vermont

Fighting Cervical Cancer in Vermont

South Burlington, Vermont - October 14, 2007

One of the keys to fighting cancer is to keep a healthy lifestyle and get plenty of exercise. And that's what a group of students at the University of Vermont did on Sunday to raise awareness about cervical cancer. They took part in a 5 kilometer run as a way to raise money through pledges.

Unlike most cancers, research has turned up a cause of virtually all cervical cancer. It's the Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV. Allison Hicks contracted the disease and started a foundation -- the Hicks Foundation. Hicks herself beat the cancer, at least for now. "Yes, I'm a cancer survivor," she said. "But the weight of living with the disease presently coming back, or all of the associated costs afterwards, I'm definitely compromised a lot of ways in my health."

Hicks says an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. With help from the Sigma Phi Fraternity at the University of Vermont, she's getting the word out about HPV and cervical cancer. The virus is transmitted through sexual contact. Men can be carriers but there are no symptoms in men. Fortunately, women can get a pap smear to test for HPV and now there's a vaccination.

John Rawley of Sigma Phi said, "Just through education, if people are aware of the dangers that something like HPV, the different things that it causes. It makes sense to get the vaccination and Allison Hicks and her foundation help to provide that vaccination and the education to do that."

The UVM students have taken it upon themselves to raise awareness about HPV and its link to cervical cancer.

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