VANCOUVER, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- Shawnna Taylor, a 30-year-old Canadian that survives cervical cancer, hopes her story will persuade young women to receive regular Pap tests.
The resident of Nanaimo, British Columbia province (BC), cites her own experience to tell others that the practice can potentially save them from increased suffering or even death.
Taylor ignored cervical cancer screening for seven years. Her decision seemed to be sensible, given that she was only in her twenties and felt healthy enough to avoid the discomfort and embarrassment that she associated with the tests.
However, one week before turning 29, she was diagnosed with an inoperable cervical tumor with the size of a small kiwifruit, which marked the start of four months of gruelling chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Even worse, she and her husband received the devastating news that as a result of the cancer and treatment, they could never have children.
"I know how easy it can be to put off getting a Pap test especially when you are young and feel indestructible," Taylor said. "I was just like many young women before my cancer diagnosis."
"But I now know the importance of screening. It takes five minutes and can save lives and prevents unnecessary suffering," she added.
Taylor's cautionary story comes at this year's Pap Awareness Week, from Oct. 22 to 28, which is a campaign launched by BC Cancer agency to fight against cervical cancer.
Since BC introduced its Cervical Cancer Screening Program in the 1960s, the first of such kind in the world, the western province of Canada has successfully decreased the rates of cervical cancer by 70 percent, according to the agency.
"It is critical that all women be aware that a Pap test is an excellent way to prevent cervical cancer, and the only way to detect abnormal cells in the cervix which, if left untreated, could develop into cancer," said Dr. Dirk van Niekerk, medical leader of the program.
Statistics from the World Health Organization show that cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women worldwide, with about 500,000 new cases and 250,000 deaths each year.