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Shannon Miller’s Story

The most-decorated American gymnast in history shares why the HPV test is something every woman 30 and over should get

Millions of Americans remember how Shannon Miller led the “Magnificent Seven” to victory at the 1996 Olympic games. Since then, the two-time Gold medalist has gone on to become an accomplished scholar, TV host and health activist. But it wasn’t until recently that Shannon became dedicated to a cause that hit too close to home — cervical cancer prevention. Here is her story:

 At age 5, I fell in love with the sport of gymnastics. Winning seven Olympic medals was a dream come true, and I feel so blessed to be where I am today.

Keeping myself healthy has always played an important part in my success. While I was training, I made it a point to be well informed on how to best take care of my body.

In the summer of 2008, my mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer. The news really opened my eyes to the importance of early detection.

So, I talked to my doctor about what I should be doing to protect myself the best I can. I had always had a regular Pap smear, but I was excited to learn that there is now another test, a more sensitive test, for women 30 and over — like me.

The HPV test detects the presence of the cause of cervical cancer — the human papillomavirus (HPV). My doctor said that when both the Pap and HPV tests are used together, the chance of missing early cervical disease is almost zero!

My mom didn’t get an HPV test, so her disease wasn’t caught until it became cancer. But she’s inspired me to do the most that I can for myself, and to educate other women. I’m 31 years old now, and that means I need both the Pap and HPV tests when I’m screened for cervical cancer. I want to be sure I am 100% protected.

So, if you’re a woman 30 and over, please ask your doctor or nurse about the HPV test. And join me in spreading the word.