Three-time Cervical Cancer Survivor Highlights Importance of Screening during Awareness Event at Las Vegas Sign

Samantha Gonzales-Russell, 35, shared her story of survival and explained how lawmakers can help more women have access to screenings

January 23, 2024

Pictured with her husband during Cervical Cancer Awareness Month event at Las Vegas SignLAS VEGAS, NEV. – January 23, 2024 – A Las Vegas resident, three-time cervical cancer survivor, and volunteer with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) joined dozens of other survivors, patients, and Clark County Commissioners at the official lighting of the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign, Tuesday afternoon. The sign will shine teal and white in honor of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.

Samantha Gonzales-Russell, 35, was first diagnosed with the disease at age 27 shortly after being married to her husband. After experiencing abnormal bleeding and an irregular pap screening, Gonzales-Russell met with several doctors and was eventually treated.  

Her oncologist assured the cancer was caught early, but the disease returned just two years later. Gonzales-Russell experienced symptoms like digestive issues and back pain. Gonzales-Russell says several providers dismissed her concerns, despite having a history of cancer. She was eventually diagnosed during a visit to the emergency room and would spend the rest of the year in treatment which included surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy. 

By December, Gonzales-Russell’s cancer was cleared, but returned for a third time in February 2020. This time, her care team in Nevada ran out of treatment options. Gonzales-Russell turned to doctors in Los Angeles and underwent a pelvic exenteration. She now lives with permanent medical devices but has been cancer free ever since. 

Gonzales-Russell shared her story Tuesday to help raise awareness about the importance of screening and early detection for all cancers. Samantha Gonzales-Russell was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer at age 27

“My cancer journey started with a diagnosis when I was 27,” said Gonzales-Russell. “I share my story to urge others to pay attention to their bodies and get screened. It’s imperative our lawmakers take the lead by ensuring increased funding for cancer research and screening programs.” 

According to a newly released report from the American Cancer Society, the United States is projected to reach a record number of cancer cases this year, with diagnoses expected to climb in Nevada when compared to last year.  The trend is largely affected by the aging and growth of the population and by a rise in diagnosis of 6 of the 10 most common cancers, including breast. However, there has been an alarming rise in the number of people under 50 being diagnosed with cancer, most notably colorectal cancer. The report also notes cervical cancer is increasing in women ages 30 to 44.  

ACS CAN is urging Congress to finalize and pass a budget bill without further delay that includes the highest possible increases, at least to the levels put forward by the Senate, for cancer research and prevention funding. Increased funding would support programs like Women’s Health Connection in Nevada which offers free breast and cervical cancer screenings to low-income, high-risk, uninsured, and underinsured women living in Nevada. 

Media Contacts

Alex Wiles
Sr. Regional Media Advocacy Manager
Las Vegas