HAMILTON, ON (April 2/18) — 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, Talbot wants fans of the sport to know that their best chance of dodging cervical cancer is with a Pap test.
That was Talbot’s experience three years ago when a Pap test found cells on her cervix that didn’t look normal. A biopsy followed, and then 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 Talbot, 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 Pap tests. Talbot and a group of fellow skaters have volunteered to be cervical screening champions for their 2018 season, meaning they will encourage derby fans to stay up-to-date with Pap tests. Champions’ stories will be shared through social media beginning in April, and the Regional Cancer Program will also have an information table at the club’s season opener on April 21.
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. So if you’ve never been screened for cervical cancer, or can’t recall the last time, get back on track by booking an appointment with your healthcare provider.”
The provincial goal is to screen 85 per cent of eligible Ontario women. Currently, only 62 per cent of eligible women in this region are being screened for cervical cancer. This means that over 150,000 people are overdue for their Pap test or have never been screened. The number of people who return for screening every three years is also declining provincially and regionally.
“Hammer City Roller Derby is proud to be part of this campaign, and shares the Regional Cancer Program’s goal of increasing screening rates in our LHIN,” says Maggie Middleton, the club’s president. “Our skaters hope that by sharing their own personal reasons for getting screened, they’ll motivate others to make time for this important test.”
Middleton, 40, is also featured in the campaign. “I saw my mother go through cervical cancer when she was about my age. My mother’s cancer diagnosis made me highly aware of the importance of cervical screening as part of a healthy lifestyle. And as a mom myself, it’s important that I take care of my health.”
Teammates joining Talbot and Middleton as screening champions are pediatric oncology nurse Jill Watt, McMaster student Emmaline Swenor and Hamilton carpenter/artist Kelly Warne. Their stories, and cancer screening information, can be found at hnhbscreenforlife.ca
Roller Derby fans are also welcome to visit the Regional Cancer Program’s information table at the club’s home opener taking place Saturday, April 21 at Right on Target, the community space at the former Target store at the Centre on Barton, 1112 Barton St. E., Hamilton. For event and ticket information visit hammercityrollerderby.ca
For more information about cancer screening, visit hnhbscreenforlife.ca.
Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Regional Cancer Program
Office: 905-521-2100, ext. 79280