Acadiana woman hoping her story helps others learn to put their health first

Putting health first
Learning to put health first
Posted at 3:30 AM, Feb 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-10 08:05:25-05

Anita Ewing said she was done having children and did not see a need to get her yearly exam.

"I never had any problems, so I never thought that anything was wrong," Ewing said. "It's nothing that you can feel so I never thought anything was wrong or that I really needed to have my yearly exam."

One day, something changed.

Ewing scheduled an appointment.

"I came to Dr. Thomassee, had my well woman exam, and my pap smear came up abnormal."

Ewing said she left the appointment and went home to wait for the phone call. When it came, the news on the other end was not what she expected to hear.

"It was scary," Ewing said. "Cancer is a very scary word. A lot was going through my mind, I was about to turn 50 and I knew I had a long life to live. Getting that call that says you have any type of cancer is a scary call."

Ewing said she found telling her three boys was the hardest part of the journey.

"I kinda got them all together and let them know," Ewing said. "They were worried and scared, but I told them that I was in good hands and that this was just the first step of it. I told them let's just take this one step at a time. I don't know how it progressed or if it progressed....we're going to take it one day at a time."

Dr. May Thomassee, gynecologist with Our Lady of Lourdes, said Ewing's story is common.

"A lot of patients that I see have already had their babies and most stop going to their OBGYN after they have their babies," Thomassee said. "The most important thing is that women's health is paramount, and we need to take care of ourselves."

In the last decade, Thomassee said, there have been talks about how often women need to get Pap Smear screenings.

"We don't do the cell testing every 12 months on most patients who are low risk," Thomassee explained. "We know if we test for the HPV virus and the high risk types, then we can put the screening out for Pap test a little longer. That's confusing because we still want to see you, examine you, and reassess every year if you have risk factors or if new symptoms have come up."

As for Ewing, she considers herself lucky, the cancerous cells have not spread--but she will have a hysterectomy as a safeguard.

Ewing hopes that others hear her story and take her advice to put themselves first.