Local actress Julie Wee shares personal brush with cancer

SINGAPORE - The results of a routine Pap smear screening in March 2010 shocked Julie Wee, the 28-year-old actress and voiceover artiste who starred in a local production of Romeo and Juliet.

Her doctor had found abnormal pre-cancer cells in her cervix.

However, the early discovery is what saved her life, and Wee thanks regular Pap smear screenings for that. She had been going for them since 2006.

"I knew of two other friends who had also found pre-cancer cells in their cervix before I got diagnosed with pre-cancer in my cervix," she confessed.

"I also knew about the vaccination to prevent cervical cancer. But I put off going for it because I am scared of needles and injections," she said.

Reassured by her doctor that she could be effectively treated, she immediately went to Thomson Women Cancer Centre for a colposcopy, followed by a cone biopsy procedure to remove the pre-cancerous cells.

"When I first heard I had pre-cancer cells, I was both shocked and scared. It's something you think happens to other people. Not to you," Julie said.

"The procedures were not as invasive as I imagined them to be and as a result the pre- cancer cells were successfully removed." she said.

Julie was jolted into further action after her surgery. She immediately went for her cervical cancer vaccination jabs on the advice of her doctor.

Cervical cancer is one of the top 10 female cancer killers in Singapore, where every year, 70 Singaporean women die of cervical cancer.

It is estimated that up to 80 per cent of women will acquire an HPV infection - the human papilloma virus associated with the cervical cancer - in their lifetime and almost 50 per cent of these infections will be with a cancer-causing virus type.

Fittingly, Julie's last Christmas gift to her 23-year-old sister was the cervical cancer vaccination.

Since her pre-cervical cancer scare, she has been advising friends and family to go for vaccination and regular screening.

"People like burying their head in the sand, and I only wish more women would not delay getting vaccinated a day longer and to go for regular screenings. This is the only women's cancer that we can actually prevent," said Julie.