Written for Mediaplanet’s Women’s Health campaign published in Maclean’s magazine in March 2016.
In 2013, Alison Salinas was in the prime of her life. The 32-year-old public relations professional had just started her own company and was looking forward to what the future held. When she went in for a doctor’s appointment on Halloween that year — following some tests to investigate why she had been spotting between her periods — everything changed.
“You never can prepare yourself to actually hear the words: You have cancer,” wrote Salinas on her blog. That day, she became a cervical cancer patient, but she also became an advocate to make sure that other women did not have to go through what she was about to endure.
Last year, an estimated 1,500 women like Salinas were diagnosed with cervical cancer, the fourth most common reproductive cancer in the country, according to the Canadian Cancer Society.
“It is a cancer that kills — it still kills about 380 women a year in Canada — and generally, these are young women with families, children, at the beginning of their adult life,” says Dr. Vivien Brown, President of the Federation of Medical Women of Canada, who worked with Salinas to spread her message. “And this is preventable.”