Cervical cancer survivor Pam Stromme has made it her mission to raise awareness about the importance of pre-screening for all women in North Dakota.
Stromme herself was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2004.
She was a busy mom, just started a new job and had three kids in school (her youngest being an eighth-grader).
“Every mom is tired. I was fortunate enough I worked at a clinic; they did blood draws at the time, where they would schedule people to come in to have blood draws. So I scheduled one and three weeks later I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Ten days after that I was in Rochester having surgery and it was an aggressive enough cancer that the doctor at Rochester said that if I had been treating symptoms, I would not have made it,” Stromme said.
It was through being a cancer survivor that Stromme got involved with the Cancer Society and began to volunteer for Women’s Way, a breast and cervical cancer early detection program offered in different locations in North Dakota.
Kjersti Hintz, the coordinator of Women’s Way, says cervical cancer is not the most prevalent here — but it’s just as important to be screened.
“Do the testing and in between those three-five years you do have some symptoms and those symptoms could be a variety of things that are generally like Pam talks about in her story. They could be not feeling well, it could be maybe a discharge, maybe some abnormal bleeding that you haven’t had before, pain of any sort in the pelvic area. Those are symptoms you are gonna wanna report and get checked out,” said Hintz.
The goals of Women’s Way are not just to inform and screen, but to take the pressure off those who maybe have had symptoms and couldn’t afford the cost of screenings.
“You have to take care of you because if you don’t take care of you now, there won’t be a you later,” said Stromme.
The program at Woman’s Way has been around since 1997. It helps cover the cost of both cervical and breast cancer screenings.
Hintz says if you think you may qualify, coordinators around the state are able to screen women over the phone.