Happy New Year and happy Cervical Cancer Awareness Month (CCAM)! The new year is such an important time for renewal and a way to kick off the year on the right foot. For me, I believe how we start this month determines our entire year for our community. It’s very important to me that we are all engaged and active. You’ll notice on social media that we are always more active than usual during this month. You are our messengers and we want you to be advocates who act. Don’t just like a post, but share it. Engage with our online communities and share your knowledge.
When I started this organization in 2005, it was out of a need for more advocacy in the cervical cancer space. I was healed physically from my cancer, and looking for something more. I wasn’t sure exactly what that was, but I just knew I needed it. It’s ironic because I didn’t go into this thinking I would beat my cancer and come out as an advocate. It was just the opposite for me. I wanted to forget the past few months and move on with my life. I certainly tried to leave it all behind me, but that wasn’t happening. I thought about cancer nonstop and in the few brief moments that I wasn’t thinking about it, others were. There was no escaping it.
As I grew to understand the possibilities of actually eradicating cervical cancer, I wanted to share it even more. In what free time I could find, I researched every single thing I could about this disease. My research lead me to some of the most well-known people in the cervical cancer space. I started emailing them and to my joy, they were open to meeting and sharing. This was before all the hoopla of an HPV vaccine and the possibilities of all of our efforts were endless.
The more knowledge that was shared, the more I wanted to do my part — as a person who had experienced this disease first hand. To this day, I am still so shocked by the sheer fascination of a doctor or researcher when I share my story. They truly do care. The really want to make a difference. It’s really personal for us, but it’s personal for them. I’ve found some of the most caring industry folks in my journey to become a better advocate. Sure, there are companies who are out to make a profit, but there are industry folks who actually do care and get that this is a cancer that we can do something about.
As a woman, who has experienced this disease first-hand, how could I not do my part? My part is sharing my story. Sharing our stories. Our stories are powerful. When I looked at others in the space and what I could do to help and not duplicate, it was my passion for storytelling. As a TV producer, that’s what I’ve spent the majority of my career doing — sharing stories. During my research I didn’t find many stories of real women, who were sharing their stories. You could also say that I did it for selfish reasons. My cancer back in 2001 was lonely and isolating. I had great support, but what I most needed were women who had experienced what I went through. I am proud of the army of advocates that we are building. We’ve grown so much over the past decade with women sharing in their own way. Some will share on large platforms and become national advocates sharing on the legislative floor, others will share with their family friends and local community, others will share in being a support to a recently diagnosed sister — all equally important.
We started this organization with simple story telling through our HPV parties. We’ve decided to officially change the name of the organization and you will see the we are rebranding all of our programs and projects. We will be bringing the parties back this year, after a Cervivor rebrand.
One of the most important things we do is the sharing of stories via this website which we just redesigned and I am so proud of it. I hope you will go take a look around and let us know your thoughts. If you are a cervical cancer survivor, I hope you will upload and share your story.
Remember we shine every month, but January is our time to shine! Here’s what you can do:
- Follow us on our social media platforms and like, comment & share (we’re also on Pinterest!)
- Be an engaged advocate who acts
- Share your story
- Be responsible in sharing the most current and up-to-date guidelines
- Ask what you don’t know. I promise you won’t be the only one!
- Overdue for an exam? Schedule one today.
It’s really that simple. We are our sisters’ keeper, and let’s start with a healthy cervix.
Cheers to 2016!