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January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

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Posted at 2:26 PM, Jan 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-19 13:06:20-05

Nearly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, according to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition. 

Although, this cancer is preventable and treatable.

Most diagnoses happen due to HPV disease, and it's easy to catch if women get their regularly scheduled well-woman exams. 

January marks Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, and it's a time for doctors and gynecologists to remind their women patients to schedule their well-woman exams. 

In May of 2018, Jennifer Northcutt became one of the thousands diagnosed. 

"Oh no I'm going to have radiation treatment instead for my summer vacation," Northcutt said. 

 The earlier doctors are able to detect cancer the better. Northcutt was tested for an unrelated reason, but in more common cases another virus is linked. 

"It's usually 99 percent of the time caused by the HPV virus." Registered Nurse at Baylor Scott and White McLinton Cancer Center, Sheila Hunt said. 

Cervical cancer has little to no early symptoms. Usually, a patient who may experience some indication they might have cervical cancer it is in its later more aggressive stages. 

That is why women are advised to undergo a well woman exam every three years in case a cancerous cell were to show up.

"It's slow-growing cancer and so if you test every three years then you can catch abnormal cells that possibly turn into cancer.' Hunt said.  

Once diagnosed patients go through chemo and radiology. Northcutt had to visit the cancer center each day to receive her radiology treatment. She says it wasn't painful but it took a lot out of her. 

"It was really tiring, I mean it just zapped all your energy so ya know you just didn't want to do anything," Northcutt said. 

With her lack of motivation, she thanks her family, friends and coworkers for being by her side every step of the way. 

Being positive and taking it day by day is the advice she gives to other women experiencing the same thing. 

"They would run and do anything for me, I was just surrounded with love and support and that helped," Northcutt said. 

After five months of treatment and fighting back, Northcutt was able to ring in life cancer free. 

A big brass bell hangs at the first floor of the McLinton Cancer Center, it's for patients to ring when they finish a treatment or breast cancer. 

"It's all about the hope that you had the strength to finish your race, that you finished your course of treatment that you beat this," Northcutt said. 'It's so loud too, so everyone in the hospital hears it and it makes others think, okay they beat it I can too." 

 For more information on cervical cancer, it's symptoms and treatments visit the National Cervical Cancer Coalition website. 

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