Sharing a diagnosis can be daunting, even when you’re just breaking the news to a few close friends. Some brave souls have chosen to take their struggles public, both in an act of solidarity with others experiencing similar trials and to educate those who might not know much about the condition.
Gerri Willis, an anchor and reporter with Fox Business, was pretty open about her breast cancer diagnosis from over three years ago.
In an interview with Fox News, she said that she resisted the diagnosis for a long time, depending on her optimism and upbeat attitude until she couldn’t anymore and she was finally able to accept her disease and take responsibility for her treatment.
She even said that cancer actually made her happier because she got clarity and realized what was important. She ended up conquering that cancer — but recently she found out she could be fighting again.
And this time, the news was a little more embarrassing to share, based on the nature of the disease. Willis decided to write about the discovery, framing her case in her own words and getting a lot of support for bravely speaking out about a disease that is often kept quiet.
“In this case, more pre-cancer cells have been discovered on my cervix,” she wrote, contrasting this diagnosis with her previous one. “I told you about my struggle to contain these cells just a few months after my doctor found them late last summer.”
“I thought a simple cone biopsy had removed them. But as luck would have it, the virus that is creating these cells, HPV-18, is still in my body and creating more of these problem cells.
“I’m no stranger to cancer and have been very public about my story with Stage 3 lobular breast cancer diagnosed just three and a half years ago. I’m still breast cancer-free thanks to the efforts by my incredible doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering, but now, I have another foe: HPV or human papillomavirus.
“I debated whether to talk about this publicly. After all, HPV is transmitted by sexual contact. It’s embarrassing. Not the topic of polite cocktail chatter. I didn’t want our Fox family to think less of me.
“But the truth is, HPV is worth talking about simply because it is ignored. Fear of the virus sometimes makes us reluctant to get the facts. That was me. I knew nothing beyond the ads I saw on television. What I have learned since is that HPV can lay dormant for decades. And, then, when you least expect it, unmask itself. That’s what happened to me.”
Willis mentioned the vaccines now available for children, wrote about how common the condition is and pointed out how “more than 9 of 10 cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV.”
She first discovered something was wrong through a routine Pap test, which she recommended to her female readers. Since the doctor caught it in time, the solution is pretty straightforward and the reporter is looking at a hysterectomy to take care of the issue.
“I am upbeat and optimistic because this surgery is preventative,” Willis wrote. “I’m in front of the curve this time in my fight — being treated before an actual cancer has time to develop.”
“So, I’ll see you in a few weeks,” she concluded. “Don’t worry. We’ve got this. But do me a favor, take care of yourself and your family. HPV is a cancer you have tools to fight.”
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