Fox Business Network anchor Gerri Willis announced that she will be taking a leave of absence while undergoing another surgery to address pre-cancer cells.
Willis, formerly a finance editor for CNN before joining Fox Business in 2010, announced her original breast cancer diagnosis in May 2016. She wrote in a column on Fox News’s website on Tuesday that pre-cancer cells have now been discovered on her cervix.
“I’m no stranger to cancer and have been very public about my story with Stage 3 lobular breast cancer diagnosed just three and a half years ago,” Willis wrote.
“I’m still breast cancer-free thanks to the efforts by my incredible doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering, but now, I have another foe: HPV or human papillomavirus,” she added.
The 60-year-old North Carolina native says she continues to speak publicly about her treatments because “fear of the virus” may make some “reluctant to get the facts.”
“The truth is, HPV is worth talking about simply because it is ignored,” she says. “Fear of the virus sometimes makes us reluctant to get the facts. That was me. I knew nothing beyond the ads I saw on television. What I have learned since is that HPV can lay dormant for decades. And, then, when you least expect it, unmask itself. That’s what happened to me.”
Willis also underscored the importance for women to get tested regularly to help detect cells that could potentially metastasize.
“My pre-cancerous cells were found by a routine PAP smear. Early detection is critical. Please, take my advice, ladies. I know it can be hard to find the time for these simple tests but your life may quite literally depend on it,” Willis wrote.
“It all comes down to the same things when trying to prevent cancer. Early screening. Vigilance. What I’ve learned in my cancer journey is this — we can’t stop for a minute in our efforts to rid the world of cancer. The disease is relentless,” she added.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, almost 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. The American Cancer Society says breast cancer is the second-leading cancer death among women, behind lung cancer, with an estimated 42,000 expected to die of breast cancer in 2020.
Meanwhile, Willis wrote Tuesday citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that “nearly all American men and women will get some strain of HPV in their lifetime. That’s a lot of ticking time bombs.”
“The good news is that most of these strains are harmless,” she continued. “But for a few of us who contract HPV, one of nine cancers threaten. HPV is the culprit in 35,000 cancer cases diagnosed every year. More than 9 of 10 cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV.”