"What Grown Women DO": Wake-up call about cervical cancer!

Last summer, the Huffington Post published an article about the death of Ms. Yvette Wilson, former co-star of Brandy on the Moesha show and Ice Cube in the movie Friday.  My heart sank as I read that she had died of cervical cancer.  Another woman lost her life to a preventable disease. At first, I was angry about this ... angry with Ms. Wilson for not going to see her doctor sooner (even though I didn't know if this was the case), angry with doctors for not following up with her about the screening that could have saved her life, angry with a health system that failed to care for someone in need. As I launched into a full-fledged rant about all of this, images of my own last physical flashed before my eyes.
There I was, sitting on the exam table trying to explain why I had not had a Pap test (cervical cancer screening test) since ... 2006. Me, an educated, gainfully employed, health professional with all of the knowledge and resources needed to take care of my health. I’m supposed to know what to do … and do it!

I knew that I was supposed to have this test every three years as long as I had normal results...and that black women die more often from cervical cancer other women. So, when my doctor asked me about it, I thought it was a mistake. It couldn't be true..."the doctor"  (the mad scientist, not the medical one) had let this slip...for SIX years. All of the statistics about cervical cancer flooded my brain. Beads of sweat popped out of my scalp and ran down my face. 

I argued with the doctor about the accuracy of my records until she showed me my health record, including the dates of my last pap test…and each time they reminded me to get the test done. I could not deny it. I actually remember receiving the notices in the mail and being reminded by my primary doctor and an urgent care doc in my health group to get the test done. I remember saying I would do it later... but I wasn't thinking six years later! I put off getting a Pap test for things that seemed more important at the time ... commitments to work, family, friends...and probably a stranger or two. And...I just didn't feel like being poked and prodded...REAL TALK girlfriend! I didn't think about how this seemingly small decision could affect me or my health.

I’m thankful that all was well with me, but when I look back at the situation, some real truths stare me back in the face. Some of these may apply to you, too.

·         Truth #1: As much as I love Wonder Woman; I’m not a superwoman. I’m just a regular chic. My ability to help others is limited most by my willingness to take care of myself.
·         Truth #2I’ve not always taken the best care of myself. More often than I care to admit, I’ve ignored my body's signals of potential illness, fatigue, and even mental and spiritual weariness. I simply must do better.

·         Truth #3A healthy tomorrow is not guaranteed. It depends on what I do to take care of myself today. Each day is a new and a great opportunity to live well.

Ladies…we're worth taking care of; we are worth the investment of time and care. Let’s take care of ourselves...like "grown women" do!

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