Taking Care of Her Health
- Shannon Murphy, 28, had a dream that she needed to have a pap smear done, and luckily took it as a sign to get checked out: she then found out she had cervical cancer.
- The Dublin native was at home with her four children when she got the call to come in last month. Thanks to her premonition, she is scheduled to undergo surgery.
- A pap smear is a minimal procedure where your doctor collects cells from your cervix to test them for any abnormal changes.
Mother of four Shannon Murphy, 28, had a dream that she needed to have a pap smear done, and luckily took it as a sign to get checked out: she then found out she had cervical cancer.Read More
A pap smear is a minimal procedure where your doctor collects cells from your cervix to test them for any abnormal changes.
“I knew when I was having it done that something was wrong because the nurse kept asking me if I was going on holidays and would I be around if there was any follow up,” she said.
Four days later, Shannon was called back in and told she did indeed have cancer.
“I had no inclination to go at all, I had no interest in having a smear, it was simply because of the dream that I had it done,“ she explained, adding that it “felt really real.”
When Shannon went for her women’s exam, there was a wait, and she almost left, “but the nurse, she encouraged me to stay, I thought nothing of it to go,” Shannon admitted. “But I stayed. I know how lucky I am now.”
Shannon, who will be undergoing surgery very soon, was at home with her four kids when she got the call. “It is the worst thing when they say, ‘Bring someone with you’. I knew in my heart.”
What is HPV?
Nearly every sexually-active person will get the human papillomavirus, or HPV, at some point in their lives, but most people with the infection do not know they have it and never develop symptoms or health problems from it. The virus is spread via sexual activity and can manifest as warts on your genitals or mouth. Most often, it lies dormant in the body.
When people talk about HPV and cancer risk, they tend to focus on cervical cancer. And while it’s true that nearly all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV, people should also be aware that HPV puts both men and women at risk of developing several other cancers as well including cancers of the vagina, penis, anus and throat.
Cervical Cancer & HPV
Just how risky is the human papillomavirus?
“The vast majority of humans in the U.S., both men and women, will eventually get infected with human papillomavirus,” says Dr. Allen Ho, a head and neck surgeon at Cedars-Sinai.
“The important thing to know about HPV is that there are many different strains, and only a couple of them tend to be more cancer-inducing,” Dr. Ho explains to SurvivorNet. ”
Probably less than 1% of the population who get infected happen to have the cancer-causing virus that somehow their immune system fails to clear, and over 15 to 20 years [it] develops from a viral infection into a tumor, and a cancer.”
The HPV vaccine, which was recently approved in the U.S. for people up to age 45, though it’s recommended that children get it before they become sexually active, can prevent a lot of these cancers.
Gardasil 9 protects against nine strains of HPV – including the strains most likely to cause cancer and genital warts. But it can’t provide protection if a person has already been exposed to HPV. That’s why doctors recommend it for children as young as 9.