In 1990, at the age of 21, Helen had a brush with cancer that would change her view of women’s health. Her doctor detected precancerous cells – caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) – leaving Helen fearful that she may develop cervical cancer.
Thankfully, the condition was treatable and the cells were removed, although she had to endure months of worry before it was resolved and now undergoes regular cervical screening.
Today, as a mother of two, the episode prompted Helen to encourage her teenage daughter to have the HPV vaccine which can protect against common forms of cervical cancer.
‘It was a done deal…I told my daughter ‘You can have a cancer or you can have a vaccine,’ she says. ‘I mean, why wouldn’t you?’
In this episode of our Vaccination Cafe series, Helen recalls her cancer scare, the fear and shame it brought, and the relief she feels in being able to ensure that her daughter is vaccinated against HPV.