A Canadian sports anchor is opening up about her recent cervical cancer diagnosis in hopes of raising awareness of the importance of regular screenings.
Danielle Michaud, one of the hosts of Sportsnet, a Canadian sports network, took to social media to announce she would be taking time off of work after being diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Earlier this week, the 31-year-old revealed she was diagnosed with cervical cancer last month. She received the news while trying on dresses for her upcoming wedding — and just one week ahead of beginning her dream job with Sportsnet.
Just weeks after her diagnosis, on Nov. 1, Michaud underwent a six-hour surgery to remove her cervix on
“There was no cancer found in the surrounding tissue or lymph nodes,” she wrote. “It’s hard to describe my relief, and I can’t put into words how grateful I am for my surgeon Dr. Taymaa May and her team. Their kindness eased my fear and I felt fully confident rolling into the operating room.”
Michaud announced on Twitter that she would be taking approximately a month off to heal from her surgery before thanking her family and loved ones for their support.
“It’s an odd feeling to be completely reliant on your parents at 31 years old, but I’m slowly healing thanks to their care,” Michaud said.
Although her cancer diagnosis came as a shock during what should be a happy time for a newly engaged couple, Michaud says she and her fiancée Tim are “stronger than ever because of this.”
Michaud writes that despite initially keeping the news private, she was compelled to share her experience in the hopes that more women will go for regular screenings.
What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is cancer located in the cells of the cervix, the passageway that connects the uterus to the vagina.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, most women who develop cervical cancer have had an human papillomavirus (HPV) infection — collection of viruses that can be spread through sexual contact that effects both men and women.
Approximately 75 per cent of sexually active men and women will develop at least one HPV infection throughout their lifetime, however because there are often no signs or symptoms of infection, many people are unaware that they have contracted HPV.
There are several other risk factors that can increase changes of developing cervical cancer diagnosis, including smoking, taking oral contraceptives as well as giving birth multiple times.
The importance of screening
Regular Pap tests every one to three years for women who become sexually active or are over the age of 21 can help detect precancerous cells before they develop into cervical cancer.
Signs and symptoms
Although there may not be any signs or symptoms of cervical cancer in it’s early stages, women are encouraged to visit their doctors should they experience irregular and discoloured vaginal discharge between periods, pain during sexual intercourse, changes to their menstrual flow and bleeding after sexual intercourse.
Immediate medical attention is required if women experience blood in their urine or stool, pelvic pain, difficulty urinating, loss of bladder control loss of appetite or pain in the lower back, legs or swelling of the legs.
The news anchor notes that in Ontario, students in grade 7 (both male and female) have access to the HPV vaccination for free which can help decrease the risk of women developing cervical cancer.
According to the American National Cancer Institute, HPV vaccinations have a nearly 100 per cent efficacy rate in preventing cervical, vulvar and vaginal disease.
HPV vaccinations are also credited with reducing the risk of HPV-related cancers that target other areas of the body aside from the cervix, such as anal and throat cancers.