When it comes to cervical cancer, new information shows African-American women are dying at a much higher rate than white women.
In Louisiana, we have one of the highest rates of death, and number of women who get the condition.
Kyvonne Winley loves New Orleans culture and second lines, of course that's second only to the love of her six children and 11 grandchildren. Lately there's been heartbreak. She lost her beloved sister Faye to cancer from smoking. In a case of mistaken identity, a gunman shot her point blank in her face. It still bears the scars. And then only in her 40s, more challenging news.
"I went to the hospital and they brought me into the room and told me that I have cancer, so I kind of like broke down a little," Winley said quietly through tears.
There was abnormal vaginal bleeding that was not during her period. Doctors found advanced cervical cancer. She admitted, after having some of her children, she stopped getting regular pap smears at the gynecologist, a quick screening that can find precancerous cells and treat them more easily.
"I would say it's the most common one I see here. It's a shame because it's completely preventable with vaccination and screening," said Dr. Jernigan.
LSU Health Gynecologic Oncologist Dr. Amelia Marie Jernigan recommends that all boys and girls ages nine to 26, have their three Gardasil vaccines to protect against the very common Human papillomavirus that causes cervical and rectal cancer and genital warts.
"Almost everyone who has sexual intercourse will at some point have the HPV virus whether they test positive for it or not," she said, explaining how often the body will naturally get rid of it.
Doctors are concerned about women, especially older women, who have gone years with no screening.
Kyvonne is brave. She has been through chemotherapy and radiation as part of a clinical trial at University Medical Center Cancer Center. She is speaking publicly about her diagnosis so that other women don't face the more serious health battle she has.
"These things are so important within your life. A lot of black women are really getting diagnosed with cancer, breast cancer, cervix cancer and they need to get checked," Winley emphasized.
- LSU Healthcare Network Breast and Cervical health program 1-888-599-1073 www.lbchp.org
- Medicaid program managed by LSUHSC:
- Dr. Jernigan's clinic at LSUHSC in New Orleans: 504-412-1600.
- St. Thomas Health Clinics, six locations 504-529-5558
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