Sanger woman shares her journey with cervical cancer

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Stephanie Gonzalez doesn’t like to think about it because at 41, death is still unreal for her.

“It doesn’t hit me… like I’m dying,” says Gonzalez. “I don’t feel like I’m dying.”

Gonzalez was diagnosed with stage 3 cervical cancer in 2017.

“After nine weeks of treatment, I was scanned three months later and found to be stage four,” says Gonzalez. “So it didn’t work. It spread at that time.”

Doctors told her she had only two years to live. As a mother of five, Gonzalez knew it was time to stand up for herself.

She got a second opinion.

“Signed to be a guinea pig and get an experimental drug,” says Gonzalez. “Four treatments later, I was in remission.”

Last year she learned that her cancer had returned.

So she is being treated again.

“From what they know about my cancer now, there’s no cure for it,” says Gonzalez.

Doctors say cervical cancer is preventable.

It is caused by HPV or the human papilloma virus.

A Kaiser Permanente OB-GYN says the first method of prevention is the HPV vaccine.

“Both boys and girls, if we can, hopefully between 9, 10 years old, 13, 14 years old, before they have sex. So that we get a series of these two to three vaccines depending on their age,” Dr. Amanda Reeves with Kaiser Permanente in Clovis says about getting vaccinated. “They’ll then have resistance or at least a very, very much reduced incidence of even those abnormal cells that get infected with those high-risk viruses.”

Another important prevention method is that women should be screened for cervical cancer every three years, starting at the age of 21.

Dr. Amanda Reeves says it can detect abnormalities before it becomes cervical cancer and then treat it.

And that’s what Gonzalez wishes she did.

“I believe it was about eight years from when I had my abnormal pap until I actually went to the emergency room,” says Gonzalez.

Now she is sharing her story to help other women, so the thought of death is not a thought at all.

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