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Hamilton Health Sciences Home
May 19, 2016

Persistence in cervical cancer screening conquers disease

When Donna Johnson of Ohsweken visited her family doctor in October of 2012, she had no inkling that her life was at a crossroads.

“It was just a routine checkup,” recalls Donna. Her doctor became concerned after seeing the results of a Pap smear, so she sent Donna for additional testing at the local hospital in Brantford. Donna was then referred to Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre, where she was put into the care of Dr. John Mazurka.

Dr. Mazurka’s examination of Donna indicated possible cervical cancer.

“He ordered a biopsy, which didn’t show any signs of cancer,” says Donna. “Convinced that something was wrong, he ordered a second, larger biopsy, which also didn’t show any signs. It wasn’t until the third biopsy that the cancer showed up. I’m glad he was so persistent.”

“I’m sharing my story to let other women know that they need to have regular checkups.”

The diagnosis of cervical cancer was devastating to Donna, who had no family history of cancer.“I was scared and started crying when I first received the diagnosis,” she says.

Dr. Mazurka put Donna on a program of radiation and chemotherapy, which lasted from January to March, five days a week. “During my treatment, the nurses and staff were exceptionally kind. My experience at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre was very positive.”

After her treatment was completed, no trace of cancer could be found in Donna’s body. “I’ve been cancer-free for three years now and my health is fabulous,” she says. “The experience has changed my perspective on what’s really important in life. All that matters is your faith, your family and your health.”

Donna decided to share her cancer journey because she wanted to help educate others. “I’m sharing my story to let other women know that they need to have regular checkups.”

Donna recognizes the importance of donor support more than ever. “People should donate because you never know when you or a family member will need the services of the hospital,” she says.

Watch Donna’s video below and consider donating to Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre Foundation.


Cervical Cancer Screening Process

Screening tests are used to detect cervical cancer early, before symptoms develop. To screen for cervical cancer, the Pap test is used to look for abormal cells in the cervix. The Ontario Cervical Screening Program recommends women who have been sexually active have a Pap test every 3 years once they turn 21 (until age 70, if Pap tests are normal). A healthcare professional collects a sample of cells from the cervix. These cells get sent to the lab to be tested and the results are sent back to the doctor. The test is available from a family doctor, women’s health clinic, or public health clinic.