Do you typically go to the doctor only when you’re sick? If the answer is yes, you may be missing out on important services that can help you stay healthy.
Regular check-ups with your doctor can help you detect and prevent illness. Screening tests your doctor recommends may find diseases early, when treatment is most likely to be successful.
I want to share a personal story with you. About 4 years ago, I finally had a pap smear completed after putting it off for several years. I know I should have completed them regularly, but the excuses came up……Is it really a big deal to get a pap smear regularly?…….I feel fine so I’m good.……..I don’t have the time right now but will later in the year……..I’ll get around to scheduling it soon……..I can’t get the time off from work……..…….and on and on.
Well, after I had that pap smear completed 4 years ago, I went on a trip to Georgia to visit with my nephew and attend his high school graduation. I remember I looked at my cell phone one afternoon and noticed I missed a phone call. I listened to the voice message and it was my primary doctor! I thought when does your doctor personally call you? This cannot be good. And it wasn’t good. Her voice message was that the results of my pap smear were abnormal and I needed to schedule an appointment with a gynecologist as soon as possible.
Needless to say, I called her back and she explained my situation. There needed to be another test done for further evaluation. The pap test results showed I may have precancerous cells, but we can’t know for sure right now, therefore further testing was recommended. I may need to have a procedure done called a conization which is basically cutting a triangle-shaped part of your cervix out for analysis.
All these thoughts when through my mind……do I have cancer? Will I need to have chemotherapy or radiation treatment? How long will I live and what will the quality of my life be? I was scared, worried, and numb.
Long story short, I met with a gynecologist, had the conization procedure completed, and all of the atypical precancerous cells were removed. Subsequently, I had quarterly pap smears completed thereafter for about 12 months to verify all was good which it was. Whew!
My message to you is no more excuses and do not put off your regular screenings. If I hadn’t completed the pap smear when I did, I may have developed cervical cancer. There are no symptoms with cervical cancer. The pap smear detects pre-cancerous cells and the cells can be removed before they have a chance to develop into cervical cancer. The pap smear test is a potential life saver.
The CDC states cervical cancer used to be the leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States. However, over the past 40 years, the number of cases and deaths of cervical cancer has decreased significantly largely due to many women getting regular pap smear tests. According to the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer is the 4th most common cancer in women worldwide.
Detection and prevention are the operative words here. If you stay on top of your health with preventative measures, you are more likely to catch diseases in the early stages and prevent illness.
The beginning of the new year is great time to schedule your key screenings with your doctor. These key screenings can include:
- Pap smear tests
- Colonoscopy (to detect colorectal cancer)
- Osteoporosis screenings
- Diabetes screenings
- Eye exams (to detect glaucoma)
- Dental exams
- Annual physicals
- Update vaccinations (such as flu, tetanus-diphtheria, and shingles)
If you haven’t done these screenings, I urge you to contact your doctor and discuss it with him or her. Ask them what screenings you should have and how regularly you should have them.
That incident 4 years ago was a light-bulb moment for me. I never miss a pap smear test again, as well as any of the other screenings my doctor recommends.
Don’t put off anything when it comes to your health. Your well-being is most important!
With much love,