She Won't Back Down ... and Neither Should You
- London-based student Jaelle Goddard, 24, started bleeding between menstrual cycles back in March of 2021. After getting put off by doctors multiple times, she finally found out that she had stage 3 cervical cancer.
- Jaelle was immediately offered a clinical trial, which she had to fundraise for due to the high cost, and fortunately finished treatment last November.
- It is crucial to stay up to date on your own medical screenings, especially pap tests, and if you have children, please at least start a conversation so that they can help you feel more informed—and hopefully more comfortable, about this important preventative measure.
At first, Jaelle was told by doctors that she was probably just hormonal. The next time, the bleeding was much worse, and she was told she “may have been having a miscarriage.”Read More
The abnormal bleeding continued, “to the point of constant pouring blood and palm-sized blood clots,” Jaelle shared in an interview.
Thankfully, at that point, Jaelle knew it was much more serious, and after her symptoms getting dismissed so many times, finally went to the emergency room.
Jaelle’s Delayed Cervical Cancer Diagnosis
Medical staff at the ER ran STD screens through blood tests and examined Jaelle’s pelvic area. She said that the doctor actually told her that her cervix looked “angry,” and said it would most likely come back abnormal.
“It did, so we did a biopsy, and I was told I had high grade dysplasia,” she said after experiencing the odd bedside manner. They removed the cells and found cancer. It was stage 3C cervical cancer, which “had spread to the lymph nodes in her stomach and pelvis.”
Doctors explained that she would no longer be able to have children, and would suffer from early menopause.
“I didn’t really process the diagnosis as everything happened so quickly,” Jaelle said.
To make matters worse, due to the advanced stage of the cancer, Jaelle was immediately offered a clinical trial … but it would cost over $100,000.
“It has made me very paranoid and upset that I was misdiagnosed,” she added of her traumatic series of medical let-downs.
“I was fortunate with how responsive people were to my fundraiser,” she said, though they didn’t raise the full amount at first, so treatment was delayed until August of last year.
Fortunately, Jaelle has since finished treatment, but the emotional scars on top of the physical are a lot to bear.
“All in all, between the stress of fundraising, delaying treatment and just dealing with the cancer, it has been so hard both physically and mentally but it has really made me realize I need to look after myself more and make more effort in doing things that make life more worthwhile and make me happy.”
She also had a very painful lesson in prioritizing preventative care.
“To people having symptoms – I’d say get them checked out,” she urged. “It’s never a waste of time, it can potentially save your life and if the diagnosis feels dismissive, don’t shy away from getting a second opinion.
“I think that had my symptoms been taken more seriously, we could have possibly caught my cancer earlier,” she said. “Pap smears should be offered from an earlier age, because cancer clearly does not wait on you to turn 25.”
HPV and Cancer
Many people do not know that the human papillomavirus (HPV), a highly common sexually transmitted virus is one of the main culprits behind cervical cancer and many other types of cancers, including head and neck cancers like tongue cancer and throat cancer, along with anal cancer.
Even though HPV has been found to do so much damage, as a leading cause of many types of the disease, there’s still a lot of controversy surrounding the HPV vaccine, which can actually prevent cancer from forming.
HPV is spread through sexual contact and is extremely common in Western society. The majority of people with HPV will not get cancer, but “for about 6 to 7 percent of the population, the virus remains dormant in [their bodies], and can ultimately cause changes that form cancer,” according to Dr. Jessica Geiger, a medical oncologist at Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center.
The controversy comes from the fact that it’s recommended that children get the vaccine, and a lot of parents don’t want to think about their kids becoming sexually active.
It is crucial to stay up to date on your own medical screenings, especially pap tests, and if you have children, please at least start a conversation so that they can help you feel more informed—and hopefully more comfortable, about this preventative measure.