If there was a way to prevent your kids from getting cancer later in life... You'd think most parents would be doing it, but the Centers for Disease Control says they're not, and it's becoming a huge problem.
New reports show just a third of children are getting the HPV vaccine.
You wouldn't know it by looking at her today, but Kathie Schellin has had a rough couple of years.
"Horrific pain. I couldn't sit. I couldn't lay down. I would sleep kneeling down with my hands on the bed. I was about a hundred pounds soaking wet. I lost most of my hair. I was hooked up to an IV because i couldn't keep any food down."
She was diagnosed with cancer in six years ago, cancer that most likely would've been prevented had the HPV vaccine been available when she was a teenager.
She says, "I think i was numb. You kind of go into auto-pilot."
Now that the vaccine is available, the CDC began heavily pushing it in 2007, and for the first few years, their efforts paid off. More and more girls were getting the shot every year.
Then in 2011, things leveled off. Now, just 33% t of girls, and even fewer boys, are protected against the wide range of cancers the shot prevents, including cervical, anal, penile and some head/neck cancers.
It's in part because doctors aren't recommending it enough, and in part because parents may not be talking about it with their children.
Dr. Larry Gordon at Aspirus Clinic in Weston call it's "very concerning," telling us he's heard it all... from parents not thinking it's necessary, to concerns about side effects, to worries it gives their daughters the green light to be sexually active.
He disagrees with the reasoning, saying "It's now been out for a fair amount of time. We've not seen any significant side effects."
Cancer researchers back him up, saying the proven benefits far outweigh the perceived risks.
Dr. David Agus says, "There's this backlash saying this is permissive to sex if they get this vaccine. Well in reality it's permissive to cancer if they don't get the vaccine."
That's exactly why Dr. Gordon always recommends it to parents... Even if he has to remind them over and over again.
"It's very good at preventing cervical cancer. The efficacy has been rated between 97 and 100%"
Since school starts next month, chances are good you'll be at the doctors anyways, getting your kids their back to school physicals and other shots, so the CDC says, in this case, the timing is really perfect. Add the HPV vaccine to your list of must haves, that way by the time your kids actually get on the bus, they'll be ready for whatever the new year brings, including the threat of HPV.
Dr. Gordon adds, "In my opinion there's no reason not to get it."
As for Kathie, who, is now cancer free, she considers herself a cautionary tale, not only for her own daughters, but for everyone.
"I wouldn't wish this upon my worst enemy."
After going through what she describes as a living nightmare, she can't imagine why anyone would even chance it.
"You will have helped prevent them from getting certain types of cancer that could potentially kill them. It's just really sad that we have this potential to fight cancer and it's not being utilized."