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Woman battling cancer shares her life behind the scenes to raise awareness: 'Pap smears are vital'

Irrespective of how long doctors say she has to live, Paquin—who is currently on chemotherapy—is determined to stay positive and fight the disease.

Woman battling cancer shares her life behind the scenes to raise awareness: 'Pap smears are vital'
Cover Image Source: Instagram/kenzinichole_

A mom of five who is battling cervical cancer for the third time is sharing her story and the gut-wrenching reality of life with the disease to help educate others. Kenzi Paquin has gained more than 1.5 million followers on TikTok and hundreds of thousands on Instagram by documenting the devastating and inspiring moments of her cancer battle. Paquin—who is an advocate for people with autism, mental health challenges and survivors of domestic abuse—regularly shares videos capturing the ups and downs of her journey, from shaving her head to having heartbreaking talks with her children and extended family.

Speaking to BuzzFeed, Paquin revealed that she had early stage cervical cancer in 2016, which was taken care of in a small procedure. "I was supposed to be getting Pap smears every six months after that and I didn’t go. If I had been getting my regular check-ups, I would’ve caught it early again. I waited three and a half years and the next thing I was told is it was stage IIIB," she said. According to the NCI, stage IIIB cervical cancer is when "cancer has spread to the pelvic wall and/or the tumor has become large enough to block one or both ureters (tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder) or has caused one or both kidneys to get bigger or stop working."

@kenzinichole_ Repost bc tiktok deleted my original video. GET YOUR PAP SMEARS LADIES! #teamkenzi#cancersucks#cervicalcancer#womenshealth#papsmear ♬ A Thousand Years - Christina Perri


Paquin recalled that the first thought she had when told she had cancer again, was about her children "and how hurtful it would be for them to live without a mother." While some doctors estimate she only has a year left, others have told her she might have three years. Meanwhile, some are hopeful she will be cancer free again. "You don't typically have symptoms with cervical cancer until it has progressed. That's why annual Pap smears are so important," Paquin said. "I eventually had symptoms of bleeding between periods and during/after sex. I also experienced horrible cramps and back pain, an odd odor and discharge, and pain during/after sex. I have constant nausea and fatigue."


Pretty much in a nut shell 😕

♬ original sound - cvmgvzzler


Irrespective of how long doctors say she has to live, Paquin—who is currently on chemotherapy—is determined to stay positive and fight the disease. "Cervical cancer is known as the silent killer. Yearly Pap smears are vital. You are your own health advocate, stand up for yourself and your health. No one else will," she said. OB-GYN Dr. Fatima Daoud Yilmaz, who is currently a clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, echoed Paquin's message about the importance of regular Pap smears. "A Pap smear is a screening test for cervical cancer. It involves taking a sample of the cells on the surface of the cervix so that they can be examined for abnormalities under a microscope," she said.


The WORST part of being a mom fighting cancer 💔 I can’t handle it, breaks my heart 😭

♬ original sound - Kenzi ♥️


"Pap smears are important because they are an easy way to detect cervical pre-cancers before they spread and transform into cervical cancer," Dr. Daoud added. Addressing a common fear about the procedure, she stated that a Pap smear is not very painful for the majority of patients. In fact, many don't feel it at all. "Rather, the pelvic exam involving the insertion of a speculum into the vagina, which is done in order to visualize the cervix and collect the Pap smear, can be uncomfortable for some. Some people may experience spotting or cramping after a Pap smear," she said.

@doctordaoud I’ve been gone for a minute but now I’m back! Let’s talk about how a #papsmear is performed! #gynecologist #obgyn #cervicalhealthawarenessmonth #hpv ♬ original sound - Dr. Fatima Daoud


"Before Pap smears became routine, cervical cancer was among the most prevalent cancers. These days, thanks to early detection of cellular abnormalities via Pap smear, cervical cancer has become much, much more rare," Dr. Daoud explained. "In the United States, anyone with a cervix between the ages of 21–29 needs a Pap smear every three years, regardless of prior sexual activity. Between the ages of 30–65, Pap smears are done every five years. If at any point a Pap smear or HPV test comes back abnormal, more frequent or intensive testing may need to be done. People with certain medical conditions, such as HIV, get Pap smears on a different schedule."


In addition to getting routine Pap smears, Dr. Daoud strongly advises against smoking and stresses the importance of getting the HPV vaccine. "The overwhelming majority of cervical cancer (as well as vaginal, vulvar, anal, and penile cancers) are caused by human papillomavirus or HPV. Please stop smoking tobacco. It impairs your body's ability to fight off HPV, allowing it to linger longer inside your body and cause the cellular changes that lead to cancer," she said. "Anyone ages 11–45 is eligible for the HPV vaccine, which offers 99% effective protection against the nine most dangerous strains of HPV. It is a vaccine that can protect you from cancer. Please talk to your health care provider, regardless of whether or not you have tested positive for HPV in the past."

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