Murray Baker Bridge shines teal light on Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 10:18 PM CST
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PEORIA (25 News Now) - The Murray Baker Bridge lights are lit up in teal for Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.

One local survivor has become an advocate for early detection.

“It was the quietest silence that I’d ever heard. I never heard anything as quiet as when she said, ‘You have cancer,’” said Cervical Cancer survivor, Jolene Whisler.

At 34, Whisler found out she had Cervical Cancer back in 2006.

“Less than a week later after getting the diagnosis, I went in and got a total abdominal hysterectomy, then after that 9 weeks later I was getting mapped for radiation,” said Whisler.

About five months later, Whisler was in remission. But she says that almost wasn’t the case.

“I was irresponsible. I didn’t go get screenings. I didn’t go get a Pap (test) like I was supposed to,” said Whisler.

Now, she’s an advocate for other women and serves as the Peoria Chapter Lead for The National Cervical Cancer Coalition.

“There is probably woman out there who haven’t gotten their Pap test in a while and not thinking that it can affect them,” said Whisler.

The CDC says about 4,000 women die of this cancer each year, with about 13,000 new cases.

The Tazewell County Health Department says it screened more than 800 women last year.

“Cervical cancer is preventable, when you do have those screenings because it’s detected a lot of times very early,” said Tazewell County Health Dept. Communications Manager Sara Sparkman.

Whisler hopes her story will encourage other women to make their health a priority.

“It’s so important to get checked. It can save your life,” said Whisler.

The Tazewell County Health Department offers free screenings for women eligible from Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford and Marshall Counties.

The bridge lights will be teal until Friday.