It was a knee-buckling moment for Kerry Kenwood when she learned she had cervical cancer. It’s the kind of moment that can rend a life into “before” and “after.”
The wildlife researcher and mother of two young girls knew in that instant she was in for the fight of a lifetime.
In 2014, following a Pap test in which irregular cells were detected in Kerry’s cervix, she received a call from Dr. Dianne Miller, division head of Gynecologic Oncology and co-founder of the BC Cancer Agency’s Ovarian Cancer Research Program.
“Dr. Miller herself phoned me and told me I had cervical cancer. There was this sense of urgency to get me in. It all felt surreal.”
In the next few days, Kerry had to make one of the most difficult decisions of her life: whether to undergo radiation therapy or have surgery to remove the cancer, which would mean removing her cervix and uterus.
Less than a month after her diagnosis, after many tests and procedures, Kerry had the surgery, choosing also to have her ovaries removed as an extra precaution.
Two years later, Kerry is cancer-free and carrying on with life. She knows how lucky she is because out of 1,300 new cases diagnosed every year in Canada, 390 women won’t survive. It’s a tragedy that is entirely preventable.
Cervical cancer has definitively been linked to the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Armed with a vaccine, we have the ability to eliminate HPV from the general population. This vaccine is available to women and girls born 1994 or later, at no cost.
PAP screening saved Kerry’s life – the HPV vaccine will ensure that her daughters never have to go through what she did.
“If only this vaccine had been available when I was younger,” says Kerry. “I’m totally in favour of it for my daughters.”
Early detection. Improved vaccination protocols . Research. BC Women’s leading physicians and scientists hope to eradicate cervical cancer in our lifetime.
It will be the first cancer in history to be eliminated by a vaccine.