Cervivor came into my life when I was needing a connection to others like myself and searching for a way to give my cancer story a purpose. Cervical cancer is still not talked about enough so there is something incredibly powerful about meeting women who want to change the world’s view of our ‘down there’ cancer. Cervivors proudly wear teal & white as we share our newfound knowledge about cervical cancer and HPV. We want to change perceptions, change state policies and show the importance of making cervical cancer research a top priority.
Before Cervivor, I had no idea January was Cervical Cancer Awareness Month (CCAM). Now I think about the 13,000 women in the U.S. alone who will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year. These are women from all walks of life, women who may have different beliefs and hardships but we are now part of a ‘club’ – one that’s all about our vajayjays, our coochies and not about our boobies. We’re a ‘below-the-belt’ cancer that was once the most common cancer death in American women. But we now have the Pap test that looks for abnormal cells on your cervix and the HPV test that looks for high-risk HPV that can cause abnormal cells. Keeping on schedule with these tests and having your annual well-woman exam has decreased cervical cancer death rates.
However, I also think about the 4,000 women who will still die from this disease this year. They will die too soon. Some will die fighting to make a difference. I am angry that we have to fight so hard and I am tired of watching strong women suffer. But what keeps me motivated is knowing that the next generation, my two young, fierce nieces will never have to hear the words “you have cervical cancer”. They will be two less. Future generations of girls will no longer have to face losing their fertility, having organs removed from their bodies or having to endure radiation and chemotherapy. We can prevent HPV related cancers. Think about it, we have prevented diseases like polio and small pox over the past decades, and in my lifetime we now have a cancer prevention vaccine.
As CCAM comes to an end, I will continue to share my Cervivor sister’s stories, along with my own, in the hopes that people will understand this disease better and be motivated to prevent it. I will be the change. I will make my story count and I will live my life with purpose.