We’re sharing Cervivor Jennie’s Cervivor School story this week. Since Cervivor School a month ago, Jennie has run with her new advocate roll. She, like me, will be at the National Race to End Women’s Cancer in DC on Nov. 8. I couldn’t be prouder of this Cervivor Sister.
I had a basic idea of what the school would be about, basing off Facebook posts and Cervivor’s website. I was so excited to learn more about this disease, and to meet a whole group of women who had been through what I had been through.
I flew out to San Diego on Wednesday, the day before Cervivor School started. I was VERY anxious. I checked into the hotel, The Horton Grand, in the historic Gas Lamp district of San Diego. The Horton Grand is old fashioned and very quaint. And two rooms are supposedly haunted, rooms 209 and 309. Several of us experienced some odd things during our stay, so I’m a believer!
Things kicked off Thursday evening with a welcome reception. I talked to a few ladies. As we talked and got to know each other, I found myself crying a lot. I was a little surprised by this. I’m over a year out from being declared NED (no evidence of disease), and I thought I had my emotions in check. But sharing my story with Melissa and listening to her story brought it right back up to the surface. I was told this was normal, that there is a lot of crying at Cervivor School, in a good, cathartic way. That was definitely true for me!
Friday’s focus was on telling our stories, and how to go about telling our stories in different situations. I’ve definitely been using Facebook for my own grassroots advocacy, but Friday’s speakers taught me how to be more effective.
It was so interesting to hear all these different stories. Even if we were staged the same, our treatments differed. And our feelings about things were the same about a lot of things. We split up into groups to answer and discuss questions posed to us, and we moved tables and teams for each new question, but the discussions were all very similar.
When I was first diagnosed with cervical cancer, I felt very alone. I found support through a group on Facebook, and have wound up making friendships with women from that group in real life. I have been lucky to have spent time with some of these women face to face. But I had never before been in a room with so many women who had been through what I’d been through, and really and truly GOT IT. It was wonderfully overwhelming, and I felt so blessed. I even found out that some of us at Cervivor School had mutual friends through the Facebook group.
We are all from different places, different socioeconomic statuses, different races, different religions. But we bonded so easily because we had all been touched by a horrific disease that has a stigma of shame attached to it. Cervivor School also helps to teach us how to advocate and knock down that stigma, so women will know that they are not alone.