January is cervical cancer awareness month, so you know what that means: pap smear time.

If you are a guy reading this, you are off the hook. But I'm asking you to please remind your wife, sister, mom or female friend to make an appointment for a pap smear.

Last year there were 12,586 new cases of cervical cancer and more than 4,000 deaths.  These statistics are for the United States alone. It is such an easy cancer to catch early.

The pap smear (as awful as that name sounds) has been profoundly effective.  It’s a simple, easy test that your gynecologist performs in the office. So come on, the pap smear is a gift, and as Nike would say, "Just DO it."

The two most significant risk factors for cervical cancer are smoking and contracting the human papillomavirus (HPV) , a virus that is passed to a partner during intercourse.  HPV is the precursor to cervical cancer.

There’s good news here as well.  There is a vaccine for the HPV virus which is 91 percent effective, so please get tested!  If you do not have the virus, you need to immediately get vaccinated.  In fact, for both young women and young men, it is recommended to be vaccinated after becoming sexually active.

If you have any questions, consult your doctor. If you are living in the northeast, you get a snow pass for one week. After that, go get tested.

Cuddle up and keep warm. Never doubt the true benefits of hot cocoa and mini marshmallows!