HATTIESBURG, MS. (WDAM) - Laura Ryals from Columbia learned she had cervical cancer at just 26 years old during an important period in her life. She had just given birth to her first child, a baby girl.
Before her baby was born, Ryals found out she had an abnormal pap smear. "So after that they wanted to do another pap smear after I had delivered my child and it came back normal," said Ryals.
Despite that news, Ryals started having some complications and more tests were done.
Ryals said, "And I had it so, immediately I had surgery and then started radiation chemo about three weeks later and that's hard when you have an 18 month old."
During her treatment, Ryals said good friends and family helped her successfully fight the disease. In those years since her battle, Ryals and her daughter have been active participants in "Relay for Life."
"She knows nothing else but Relay and we've gotten so many of her friends involved and we love it. It's a great time to reflect and you see friends over the years that have come and gone and it's a great night," said Ryals.
Ryals said fund raising is so important to advance the cancer fight as evidenced by the FDA'S approvals of the vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix. The American Cancer Society says they can protect women against infections that can lead to pre-cancers of the cervix.
"Things have come so far and you think about what was back 17 years ago to now. I've had friends that have gone through cancer treatments, it's so different now. And there is so much more hope out there," said Ryals.