This month, CervixCheck is dedicated to bringing awareness to cervical cancer screening, and decreasing the stigma of the HPV – the virus that causes cervical cancer.
At CervixCheck we work to educate Manitoba women about the causes of cervical cancer and the importance of screening through regular Pap testing, as well as educate health care providers about best practices in cervical cancer screening.
One clinic in Winnipeg we have worked with is Hope Centre Health Care, where LeAnn Friesen is the clinic coordinator.
In her role, she’s become aware of many reasons that prevent women from booking a Pap test – even though it is a quick, simple test, and it can save your life – and she works with clinic staff to help women overcome any discomfort, confusion or fear they may have in order to help them get screened for cervical cancer.
“It’s an intimate exam, and sometimes women aren’t totally comfortable for a number of reasons,” LeAnn says. “Maybe they are not comfortable having a male doctor do the test, or maybe it’s a language barrier or knowledge barrier, so they put it off.
“We also know that many women have gone through abuse or sexual assault,” LeAnn says, acknowledging that for those women, the test can be especially intimidating.
“There are many clinics that offer Pap testing, and there are lots of resources out there to help,” LeAnn says. “At our clinic we can take as much time as you want, or we can get you out of here as fast as you want. We’ve done it where a second nurse is in the room to hold the woman’s hand or offer comfort. We also have nurses here who work with the sexual assault program in Winnipeg, so they have that experience as well, so we can help out in a lot of different circumstances.”
CervixCheck recommends all women age 21-69 who have ever been sexually active be screened with a Pap test every three years. The Pap test detects abnormal changes to the cells on the cervix, caused by the HPV virus, which can lead to cancer – but can be addressed and treated if detected early, through regular Pap tests.
CervixCheck also works to help women find Pap clinics – you can click here to visit our website, enter your postal code, and see where in your community you can go for a Pap test, including information about the availability of female health care providers, languages spoken by health care providers at each clinic and whether the clinics are wheelchair accessible.