Friday, December 15, 2006

Dying cervical cancer patient hopes to spread word about HPV vaccine

(12/10/06 - KTRK/HOUSTON) - We first met 31-year-old Heather Burcham when she worked at ABC 13 as a temp. Now, we want to share with you her story. Heather does not have long to live. She's dying from late-term cancer, but she's not feeling sorry for herself.
"I went to the doctor and they diagnosed me with endometriosis," said Heather. "But I said, 'My mother was just diagnosed with cervical cancer. Could it be that?' And they said, 'No, you're too young'."
Burcham was 26. In pain, with cramps, and nausea, she went to four doctors and the emergency room and had many abnormal pap smears. But no one took her pain seriously.
"I cried," said Heather. "I felt like I was crazy."
A preschool teacher, her health problems kept interfering with her work.
"There were times to be honest I tried to kill myself because I couldn't take the pain," she said.
It was five years later when they finally found Heather's invasive cervical cancer. They gave her only months. At 31, she's in the care of Houston hospice and living with the Lee family that she's come to love as her own. She came to work for Lisa Lee Wilson as a nanny 10 years ago.
"There's things that could have been done that no one did," said Mary Lee, who's standing by Heather. "They totally let her fall through the cracks and she's here today because of that and it could have been prevented."
A new vaccine against HPV, a sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer, is recommended for girls and women between 9 and 26. Dr. Stephen Tyring with UT Houston worked on it.
Read More

No comments: