INDIANAPOLIS — There are many reasons why Elaine Krieg didn't go to the doctor. The Indianapolis mom works full time, is raising her son by herself, and doesn't have health insurance.
"That kind of stuff gets expensive, and then you just almost feel like, oh there's nothing wrong," Krieg said.
But she also feared what they may find. She had persistent bleeding and hadn't had a Pap smear in six years when she finally made an appointment.
"I knew something was wrong, I knew," Krieg said. "I think I was just too embarrassed, too ashamed. I didn't want to know."
Krieg was 43 years old when she went in for a screening. She remembers crying and pulling over to the side of the road when the doctor called with her results.
"He simply said, 'you have cancer,'" Krieg said.
She was shocked.
It was cervical cancer. The cervix is the lower end of the uterus that connects the vagina to the uterus. A pap smear checks for abnormal cells that have the potential of becoming cancer.
Cervical cancer is highly curable when found and treated early. The human papillomavirus (HPV) virus is the main cause of cervical cancer.
Krieg's was diagnosed at Stage 2. She had chemotherapy and radiation and is now in remission.
Her son, Josh, 16, remembers her strength going through treatment.
"It's crazy how she went through all that and how she was just being nice kind to everybody, even on her down days, just being there for anybody in the family," Josh said.
Now, Krieg is grateful and committed to encouraging others to stay on track and see their gynecologist regularly.
"It is so preventable. Just go get your Pap smears — that is all you have to do is just get your Pap smear," Krieg said. "Thank God that I am still here, to be in remission and live a healthy life and go to all my appointments and be with my son."
To help encourage women to get Pap smears, the medical staff at Ascension St. Vincent is donating their time to offer FREE Pap smears for Check Up 13.
To qualify, you must be a woman 21 and older who hasn't had a Pap smear in the last year.
Learn more and register here by midnight ET Jan. 13, 2021.