“We’re In!”

I started treatment for cervical cancer in spring of 2016. One of the first things I did was start searching for those with my cancer. When I found Cervivor, I immediately knew it was special.  It was a sisterhood of survivors, but they were also advocates! Cervivor was dedicated to eradicating our cancer. It wasn’t just a group of women looking for support, but it was a group of women who had been through it and were DOING something! I like to say that joining Cervivor and being trained at Cervivor School has given me advocacy wings.  I have had many opportunities both in my community and on the national level to participate in events as a Cervivor Ambassador. Most recently I was asked to represent our organization at the National HPV Vaccination Roundtable, in Atlanta. I had interacted on the Roundtable’s Facebook page, and felt like I had working knowledge of the collaboration. They are about stopping HPV…sign me up!

The Roundtable meeting began with a lunch. I arrived alongside Tamika Felder, Cervivor’s founder. The first thing I noticed was that we could hardly get to a spot at a table because everyone was wanting to speak with Tamika. They would greet her, as lifelong friends. Many of them had questions about Cervivor and other projects Tamika has in the works. Attendees were quickly inquiring about me and my role. They were interested in me as a Cervivor Ambassador and very excited to meet an HPV cancer survivor. I began to realize what it meant to be at this meeting. These were the countries top doctors, healthcare professionals, and researchers who had worked in this space for years! These were representatives from other organizations, our (Cervivor’s) partners in eradicating HPV and HPV related cancers! Tamika and Cervivor had been part of this collaborative group since it’s inception! I was so proud to be a part of a cancer nonprofit that is so well respected in this space. It further affirmed my initial feeling that when I found Cervivor, I found something special.

“Empowering Parents and Allies” task group

The meeting was an exciting two days packed with a lot of information and a lot of work! Each organization that is part of the Roundtable sends at least one representative. Those representatives are broken into task groups of their choosing. The task groups are just that, groups with an assigned task to help advance vaccination rates in the U.S. and spread awareness, education, and facts about HPV and the vaccine. The public educator in me was drawn to the “Empowering Parents and Allies” task group, as reaching families with knowledge is at the heart of many things I do. Most of the first day was spent in our task groups, reviewing previous work and annual goals, as well as setting new goals and collaborating with other task teams that may be partner groups in reaching these milestones. Our first evening was full of dinner presentations with updates from each task group and a celebration of the hard work and victories achieved by the Roundtable throughout the year.

The second day of the meeting was just as full. Each moment was packed with presentations from medical teams who are on the front line of vaccinating in the family practice setting, to panel discussions from research scientists on how the social media statistics can work in favor of our messaging. We had a working “Jeffersonian Lunch,” ensuring that time was purposeful and well spent. Every second was full of collaboration, information, and getting to the center of how we can change the HPV vaccination narrative in our country and strive to significantly reduce HPV cancer rates.To be honest there was so much information, that I joked with one of the other attendees at our table about how absolutely full my brain was by the end of lunch on day two. It felt as though it could not hold one more piece of information, fact, or even tidbit. I had officially hit my limit and the “meeting glaze” took over. You know, the glaze you get when the presenter’s voice starts sounding like the Charlie Brown teacher?

It was an honor to work with such an amazing group of professionals. My eyes were opened and faces were given to the people who are diligently working to spread the truth about HPV and a vaccine that is cancer prevention. How exciting to see the position that Cervivor holds among the nations top scientists, doctors, and cancer organizations. We are part of that! We are on the front lines of eradicating HPV! Cervivor is right there, side by side, elbow to elbow! We are rolling up our sleeves and deep into the space of changing the narrative on this virus and educating the public on how acting now can impact generations to come! I was so proud to be a part of this National Roundtable, but I was even prouder to be representing Cervivor. We’re in!


Holly Lawson is a two year cervical cancer survivor. Cancer has left her with many challenges, including Chronic Kidney Disease, but she is fighting for her survivorship and currently training with the Ulman Cancer Fund in the Cancer to 5K Program. She is an active Cervivor Ambassdor, who is finding healing in advocacy and sharing her story.

Self Care – Napping is Okay

Today, March 12th, 2018 is National Napping Day.  I am going to be completely honest, I took part in this special day today.  This day had me thinking about something I have to be reminded of quite often by friends, family, and medical professionals.  Sometimes it is okay to slow down.  Without taking time for self care there is no way to maintain the lifestyle that I have.  It just cannot be sustained.

Although the occasional nap is obviously amazing, this is not the only way to practice self care.  Self care also will not look the same for everyone.

5 Ways to Increase Your Self Care

  1.  Set aside a time that you can do something you enjoy daily – this can be anything that you find relaxing and that brings you peace.  Imagine setting aside time everyday to read a book, write in a journal, or take a relaxing bath.
  2. Exercise – spend some time exercising everyday.  This does not mean you need to plan to head out to the gym everyday but pick something reasonable to you.  Stretch out, do some yoga, take a walk around the block.  What level of exercise do you think is reasonable?
  3. Prioritize Sleep – This is something that is essential to continued maintenance of lifestyle.  Prioritizing sleep means trying to sleep at night but also taking time for the occasional nap as needed.
  4. Be Accepting of Help – It seems kind of counterintuitive that welcoming in help is a part of increasing your self care, however, it is really important that you allow others in to help you.  It is also important to balance that help.  If you do not want someone at your home because you just don’t feel ready for it then don’t feel pressure to accept that type of help. Think about how someone can help you on your terms.
  5. Unplug Socially As Needed – Sometimes there is a need to step away and socially take a mental break.  This can be one of the most challenging things to do and it isn’t something that will be a part of self care for everyone.

So, how about you?  Did you take part in #NationalNappingDay?  What is one way you can increase your Self Care?

Read more about Erica’s story at www.cervivor.org/erica