Sanger woman shares her journey with cervical cancer

Amanda Aguilar Image
Friday, January 20, 2023
Sanger woman shares her journey with cervical cancer
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Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers among women younger than 50 years old and a Sanger woman is sharing her journey and what she would do differently with the disease

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Stephanie Gonzalez doesn't like to think about it because, at 41 years old, death is still surreal to her.

"It doesn't hit me...like I'm dying," Gonzalez says. "I don't feel like I'm dying."

Gonzalez was diagnosed with Stage 3 cervical cancer in 2017.

"After nine weeks of treatment, I was scanned three months later, and found to be stage four," Gonzalez says. "So it didn't work. It spread during that time."

Doctors told her she had less than two years to live. As a mother of five, Gonzalez knew it was time to advocate for herself.

She got a second opinion.

"Signed to be a guinea pig and get an experimental drug," Gonzalez says. "Four treatments later I was in remission."

She learned last year her cancer was back.

So she's, once again, getting treatment.

"From what they know about my cancer right now, there's no cure for it," Gonzalez says.

Doctors say cervical cancer is preventable.

It's caused by HPV or the human papillomavirus.

A Kaiser Permanente OB-GYN says the first prevention method is the HPV vaccine.

"Both boys and girls, if we can, between 9, 10 years old, 13, 14 years old, hopefully, before they're having sex. So that we get a series of these two to three vaccines, depending on their age," Dr. Amanda Reeves with Kaiser Permanente in Clovis says about getting vaccinated. "They will then have resistance or at least a very, very much decreased incidence of even those abnormal cells getting infected with those high-risk viruses."

Another important prevention method is women should be screened for cervical cancer every three years, starting at 21 years old.

Dr. Amanda Reeves says it can detect abnormalities before it even becomes cervical cancer, and then treat it.

And that's what Gonzalez wishes she did.

"I believe it was like eight years from the time I had my abnormal pap until I actually went to the ER," Gonzalez says.

Now she's sharing her story to help other women, so the thought of death isn't even a thought at all.