Just a few short years after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Fox Business Network anchor Gerri Willis has revealed in an op-ed that she will take a brief leave of absence to address another pressing new health matter.
The 60-year-old host of US daytime TV programme ‘The Willis Report’ plans to undergo a hysterectomy after pre-cancer cells were found on her cervix and determined to be the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Willis got frank about her health crisis in her open letter to fans.
“This feeling of anticipation and not a little anxiety is all too familiar — and so is the culprit. Cancer,” she wrote, though she noted that she is still breast cancer-free after being diagnosed with Stage 3 lobular breast cancer three and a half years ago.”
She admitted that she wrestled with whether or not she should speak openly about having HPV, calling it “embarrassing” because it is transmitted by sexual contact.
“I debated whether to talk about this publicly,” she shared. “After all, HPV is transmitted by sexual contact. It’s embarrassing. Not the topic of polite cocktail chatter. I didn’t want our Fox family to think less of me.
“But the truth is, HPV is worth talking about simply because it is ignored. 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 went on to urge readers to “protect your kids” by taking children to get the Gardasil vaccine to prevent HPV.
She also encouraged women to keep up with their gynaecological exams, noting that her pre-cancer cells were detected during a routine PAP smear.
Willis will take a few weeks off to have surgery and recover. And though she called cancer “relentless,” she reassured fans about her prognosis.
“I am upbeat and optimistic because this surgery is preventative,” she said. “I’m in front of the curve this time in my fight — being treated before an actual cancer has time to develop.
”So, I’ll see you in a few weeks. Don’t worry. We’ve got this. But do me a favour, take care of yourself and your family. HPV is a cancer you have tools to fight.”
Willis’s announcement was met with messages of support from Fox personalities past and present.