Life often has ups and downs, and a cancer diagnosis doesn’t belong anywhere in the mix. But some families are forced to face this reality head-on. Jodi’s story is about her experience as a mom, age 29 with two young boys, managing through cervical cancer treatment, as a way to both find and give support to others.
Jodi is candid about the need to eliminate stigma around HPV, a known risk factor in the development of cervical cancer, and the need for timely screening, as an important step in prevention.
After listening to Jodi’s perspective, take the opportunity to ask your own healthcare provider if it’s time for a wellness appointment that may also include cervical screening with an HPV test.
My name is Jodi Madsen, and I am a wife, mom, pal, hippy, blogger and also cervical cancer patient who is actively undergoing treatment. I am inspired to talk openly about my daily quest for “finding life while healing” and I hope my story helps others to feel less alone.
I was diagnosed with cervical cancer (Stage IIIC2R Adenosquamous Cell Carcinoma) In February 2021, and overnight it radically changed my life. At the time, my two boys were ages 1 & 3 years old, and it had taken me a bit of time to seek out medical care from a gynecologist, because at first I assumed the symptoms I was having were related to my recent pregnancies or to hormone fluctuations post-delivery.
Since there was little awareness or education about need for preventive healthcare from my local community or family and friends network, and I live in a relatively rural community, I unfortunately had not had routine cervical screenings, nor did I schedule annual health wellness exams prior to my diagnosis. I thought my pregnancy care appointments would be enough.
Based on some ongoing abnormal bleeding and abdominal pain symptoms, I finally did get the necessary cervical screening and biopsy tests. With my family by my side, I started treatment that involved significant travel and time away – a factor based on living in North Dakota and having medical insurance coverage for cancer care that is not necessarily readily available or close by. My rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, and participation in a new drug clinical trial keep me focused on what I need to do to heal.
Fighting a cervical cancer diagnosis, learning it is caused by Human Papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted infection, brings the burden of unnecessary stigma. I think it’s time we all do more to address the knowledge gaps and talk opening and candidly about this topic.
We have each other for support, and our experiences real, even if they are not all exactly the same.
Cervical cancer is a disease that has the potential to be preventable, through a combination of screening, HPV vaccination, and earlier identification of risk. Earlier detection may also be of benefit, for patients undergoing treatment.
I want other women to know that it’s OK to sometimes put yourself first. I know the list of to-do’s is never-ending. But, no matter if you have had an HPV vaccine, or have been in a monogamous marriage for years or decades, you still need to stay up to date on your cervical screening, which should include an HPV test to identify if you are at higher risk for disease. An hour out of your life for a visit with your healthcare provider is significantly easier than enduring a cancer treatment regimen.
To read more about Jodi’s life story, visit here, or follow Jodi on Instagram (@mamaishealing). She intends to continue to shout her story from behind a keyboard, in an effort to raise awareness about cervical cancer prevention. Jodi wants to do everything she can to try and reach the next person facing a similar battle. Her chronicle is about things she has faced, big and small, to help minimize someone else’s anxiety about the inner working of treatments, facilities, and other areas of care that Google isn't addressing.
Personal Story told 2022.
Openly talking about HPV helps to make the topic less of a taboo.
Know Your Risk for Cervical Cancer is a Facebook community dedicated to increasing women’s awareness and knowledge about HPV, its role in cervical cancer, the importance of screening tests, and connecting with other women. Join our community of 64,000 individuals dedicated to encouraging each other to be in control of their own health and wellness..