OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - This week is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, and we're hearing more and more stories from women dealing with the deadly disease. Dancing with the Stars host and sports journalist Erin Andrews announced that she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in September. And just last week an Ocean Springs woman was also diagnosed with the disease. Maggie Miller has since taken to Facebook to warn others.
"You know it's interesting, I think the first day someone tells you you have cancer a lot of people are upset," said Maggie Miller.
But for the 38-year-old, her January 16 diagnosis didn't sink in immediately. After a few days learning about cervical cancer, the fear set in.
"I'd like to sit here and tell you that I'm not afraid, but I am afraid," Miller said.
She has yet to learn what stage her cancer is, an uncertainty that has made it even more difficult.
"I can tell you over the last week I would not wish the thoughts that I've had on anyone," said Miller.
The wife, mother of two, and nurse said she knew for years she was at high risk for cervical cancer and that regular pap smears can find changes in the cervix before cancer develops. But she simply didn't make the appointments.
"I have a father with stage four prostate cancer and it's affected our entire family. I've been sitting in an oncologist office for the last four years with my dad. And I can tell you it's a weird feeling to learn I have to go to an oncologist appointment, but it's for me," she said.
Miller recently posted a lipstick smeared selfie with the hashtag #smearforsmear. It's a campaign to raise awareness of cervical cancer. Following her post, several of her friends and family members have joined in support. She's also received numerous messages from women sharing their stories and those thanking her, saying they've made an appointment.
"Get your check up. That's my message: Go and get a pap smear. Do not delay. If you have had one that is irregular, don't wait," she warned.
According to the American Cancer Society, pap smears can find cervical cancer early in its most curable stage. The HPV vaccine is also available to prevent the spread of the Human papillomavirus, which has been connected to some forms of cervical cancer.