AT 32 YEARS OLD, cancer was the last thing on Shannon Pethick’s mind. The Burlington resident had a busy life and was focused on a future with her husband.
In October 2010, the results of a Pap test revealed she had cervical cancer. Even though she was frightened, she decided to fight the disease by staying positive and using humour to deal with the difficult situation. In a six-week period, she underwent chemotherapy, radiation therapy and brachy therapy. In March 2011, Shannon’s doctors gave her the great news that she was cancer-free.
Shannon knows the impact research has made in the fight against cervical cancer. "After I was diagnosed with the disease, a family friend told me about her own battle with cervical cancer 30 years previous. Back then, her course of treatment was brutal," says Shannon. "It’s mind-blowing to learn about the strides in cervical cancer research that have been made in both treatment and preventing the disease. These advancements were funded by the generous support of the Canadian Cancer Society and other organizations."
Research is one of the most effective weapons in the fight against cancer. Currently, the Society is funding research to help prevent cervical cancer, including a study trying to identify genetic differences in various strains of HPV that may increase the risk of cervical cancer, with the ultimate goal of improving screening techniques and identifying women at higher risk.