As a roller derby jammer, Kaylee Talbot’s job is to dart around opponents in an attempt to score points. And as a champion for cervical cancer screening, Kaylee wants fans of the sport to know that their best chance of dodging cervical cancer is with a Pap test.
That was Kaylee’s experience three years ago when a Pap test found cells on her cervix that didn’t look normal. A biopsy followed, and a procedure to remove precancerous cells.
“It was very scary to get an abnormal result, but thanks to that Pap test and medical intervention I didn’t develop cervical cancer,” said Kaylee, 33, a skater with Hammer City Roller Derby (HCRD). “I would definitely encourage people to make Pap tests part of their routine medical care.”
HCRD is teaming up with the Regional Cancer Program to promote cervical cancer screening. The Ontario Cervical Screening Program (OCSP) recommends that eligible women get a free Pap test every three years through their healthcare provider, such as a family doctor or nurse practitioner. Pap tests are recommended for women ages 21 to 69 who have ever been sexually active. Pap tests are also recommended for members of the LGBTQ community who were born with a cervix.
“Cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable, but it means staying up-to-date with Pap tests,” says Dr. Dustin Costescu, Regional Colposcopy/Cervical Lead and an Assistant Professor and Family Planning Specialist at McMaster University. “A Pap test looks for signs of cancer before it starts, and we can treat those signs so that people never go on to develop cervical cancer.”
Most cervical cancers are found in women who never had a Pap test, or were screened less often than recommended by Ontario’s cervical screening guidelines.
Kaylee is quick to encourage fellow skaters to stay up-to-date with cervical screening. An early childhood educator by profession, she also urges fellow staff members at the daycare where she works to make time for Pap tests.
Kaylee’s healthy lifestyle choices also include regular exercise, and that’s where roller derby fits in. When she joined HCRD over a year ago, it was her first time playing a sport – ever. “I grew up sewing, baking and doing cross stitching. I never played any sport before in my life until this.”
She learned about HCRD from a flyer, signed up for the 101 beginners’ program and was hooked. “My dad came out to watch my first practice. It was his first time ever seeing me play a sport and he was cheering me on like it was little league soccer.”
Kaylee, whose skater name is Slaylee, has met some of her closest friends through roller derby. “I feel honoured to be part of this amazing, strong group of athletes.”