January is Cervical Cancer Awareness month and an opportunity to remind women about the importance of getting annual exams. We talked to a woman from Dakota Dunes who is a cervical cancer survivor thanks in part to those exams.
5 months ago (in August 2008) Kim Blaeser found out she had cervical cancer after her annual pap smear came back with abnormal cells.
Kim says, "Emotionally I was in disbelief. I've always been healthy. I've never had any health issues that would lead me to the hospital. I had no symptoms, nothing. Other than starting menopause, nothing was different with my body."
4 months ago (in September 2008) she came to the Avera Women's Center for Gynecologic Cancer at the Avera Cancer Institute where she became a patient of Dr. Luis Rojas who performed a radical hysterectomy on her using robotics.
Dr. Rojas, "The robotics is an advanced technology with a lot of advantages. Within 24 hours patients are ready to go home and her recovery went very smooth. The side effects of the a standard hysterectomy, like bladder dis-function, were not seen."
Kim says, "Number one, I think women need to get their annual exams. It's such an easy way to find out if things are fine. If they aren't you can react to it and get the procedures done. I have to tell you, that robotics surgery is something else. You hardly miss a beat and it's such an easy way to treat cancer. I feel great."
Dr. Rojas says, "The type of cervix cancer that Kim had presents all of a sudden not like the other types cancers. All of her other paps came back normal."
Smoking also puts you at increased risk for cervical cancer. Dr. Rojas says it can cause the cells in the cervix area to mutate. Yet another reason to break the habit.
Kim says, "In my situation it was caught early enough that I didn't need chemotherapy, no radiation. I'll come back and see Dr. Rojas every 3 months for a while, but as far as I'm concerned that's it. I feel really good."
Kim says she whole heartily believes her commitment to getting paps every year and finding the best gynecologic oncologist out there is the reason she is here today. She's healthy and happy. She is a cervical cancer survivor.