Cervical Cancer Awareness Month: New Canaan resident urges women to get a pap smear

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and New Canaan resident Jen Benson, is urging women to get a pap smear.
"Everyone knows that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. No one knows that January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month," said Benson.
Benson, 44, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer, says it is aggressive and hard to diagnose but treatable if caught early.
She was on dialysis for seven years before getting a kidney and pancreas transplant in 2015.
Benson said she was recently diagnosed with cervical cancer, saying the medication she takes to keep her body from rejecting the new organs lowered her immune system.
“It really is a double-edged sword because I need these medications to keep me alive, and they're also destroying this incredible gift that I was given," she said.
Benson is now urging women ages 21 to 29 to get a pap smear every three years.
She says women 30 to 65 should screen every five years.
Benson says the exam is equally important as getting a mammogram to check for breast cancer.
"And providers need to stress to women that all screenings are of equal importance," she said.
Benson began a nonprofit called Transplant Journey, Inc, fighting for pharmaceutical companies to push new drugs that don't put organ recipients at a higher risk of developing a deadly disease.
"We as transplant patients need to advocate these drug makers to do better," Benson said.