Cervical cancer survivor stresses importance of routine health screenings

Patient describes relationship formed with Ascension St. Vincent care teams a ‘blessing’

After a visit to the emergency room due to uncontrollable bleeding, Elaine Krieg scheduled a Pap test with her OB-GYN. When the test detected abnormal cells, her doctor did a cervical biopsy. She said she remembers crying and pulling over to the side of the road when her doctor called with her results.

“I got the call on a Friday night and my doctor told me that I had cervical cancer,” said Elaine. “I was shocked.”
Elaine received chemotherapy and radiation, and has been in remission for two years. She said she has “been blessed” by the relationships she has formed with her care teams at Ascension St. Vincent.

“I feel like I have been surrounded by the best medical team possible,” said Elaine. “My doctors and nurses are amazing, and they listen to all of my questions and concerns.”

Elaine admits she went several years without having a Pap test, but now she encourages all women to stay up to date on the screenings their doctor recommends.

“A Pap smear could save your life,” said Elaine. “It may feel awkward at times, but it’s better to feel awkward for 10 minutes than go through what I went through.”

Michael Callahan, MD, is Elaine’s gynecologic oncologist at Ascension St. Vincent. He said all women are at risk for cervical cancer, but it’s seen most often in women over age 30.

“The human papillomavirus (HPV) is very common and various strains of the virus can cause cervical cancer,” said Dr. Callahan. “Getting screened regularly is important, because it may help find cancer early, when it’s most treatable.”

At Ascension St. Vincent, doctors are ready to listen to understand you and your needs as a woman. Gynecologists are available to help determine the screenings that are right for you.

Current recommendations for screenings by age include:

  • 20s -- Women should begin getting regular Pap exams.
  • 30s and 40s -- Women should begin getting HPV tests in addition to regular Pap exams.
  • 50 and older -- Women should continue getting regular screenings as recommended by their doctor.

With locations throughout Indiana, Ascension St. Vincent makes getting routine screenings as convenient as possible. And if more advanced care is needed, you are connected to a team of specialists ready to help. We are maintaining strict precautions to keep you safe in our care. Appointments are available. Schedule a screening or find a gynecologist at ascension.org/IndianaGYNCancerCare.