Preparing for Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month

In 1999 the Foundation for Women’s Cancer established September as Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month, or GCAM. Since then, the month of September has been a time to bring awareness to all gynecologic cancers-cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar.  In 2018, it was estimated that 110,070 women would be diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer and some 32,120 will die from the disease. Every woman is at risk for a “below the belt” cancer. Reading the statistics can feel overwhelming, but we believe that education and awareness is the most powerful tool we have, in fighting this important battle in women’s health.

Understanding GYN Cancers

As women, we must understand our bodies and the warning signs for GYN cancers. Sometimes there can be little to no sign at all, while other women may experience abnormalities that could be indicators of a serious health issue. The table below is a helpful tool to use when understanding GYN cancers.

At Cervivor we always say, prevention is better than treatment. For best outcomes, make sure you’re keeping your annual Well-Woman visit, cervical screenings, obtaining the HPV vaccination if appropriate, and communicating any changes with your physician. Keep in mind, there is no screening for uterine or ovarian cancers. Maintaining an open dialogue with your provider is imperative.

What can you do?

GCAM is a time for our community and advocates to bring awareness to GYN cancers. We encourage you to participate in GCAM by:

Sharing Cervivor content during GCAM. We will have plenty of graphics, articles, and other resources to share with your social media network, across all platforms. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Share you Cervivor Story. Have you shared your story with us on Cervivor.org? Sharing your story on our site is a powerful tool for getting your story out there. Our template guides you with questions, to help you share your cervical cancer story in a way that is personal to you. You can share as little or as much as you like. Once you have submitted your story and it is published, you will be able to share the link with others.

Contact local media to share your Cervivor story. Many times, local news stations, newspapers, and neighborhood publications are looking for content. Reach out to them and share your story. If your story is on Cervivor.org, share the link with them when you reach out.

Host a Cervivor Meet-Up. Meet-Ups are local gatherings of Cervivors, networking and sharing in a social environment. You can hold a Cervivor Meet-Up in a coffee shop, restaurant, bar, or any where you feel is a welcoming and relaxed place for Cervivors to talk and share. If you’re interested in hosting a Cervivor Meet-Up in your area, contact holly@cervivor.org.

Chicago area Cervivor Meet-Up

We look forward to a successful GCAM and can’t wait to see how our Cervivor Community comes together to bring awareness to cervical and other gynecologic cancers! We are Cervivor!

Statistics: http://www.foundationforwomenscancer.org/about-gynecologic-cancers/

 

National Immunization Awareness Month

There is something about the start of a school year each August, that brings excitement. We go shopping for new clothes, fresh school supplies, and the perfect lunch box. It can feel like New Year’s as we look at a new academic year, with new instructors, and a clean start. August is also National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). As you and your family are preparing for an amazing school year, Cervivor wants to remind you to make sure the kiddos are “back to school ready” by ensuring they are current on their immunizations, including the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine.

At Cervivor our community is committed to staying engaged in the immunization conversation year-round. We regularly share our Cervivor stories in hopes to change the narrative and stigma around HPV related cancers and the importance of the lifesaving HPV vaccination. We routinely share out on social media, as it is a quick yet powerful way to show our cervical cancer journey and to remind people in our lives that it is almost always preventable.  In honor of NIAM, we wanted to share what we’ve been up to in our fight to end HPV related cancer.

Elizabeth Holliman is a longtime Cervivor Ambassador whose oldest son was finally eligible for the HPV Vaccine this month. Elizabeth is making sure R.J. is protected: I vowed to protect my sons from the HPV strains that can cause cancer, it can be prevented by the vaccine. Here’s my R.J. getting his first round of the vaccine today. I never want my kids to go through what I did, or many others have when it’s preventable. It’s just that simple. There was no hesitation.  When you know better, you do better. 

Scott Courville is an oropharyngeal cancer survivor and an active member of our online HPV cancer support group. Scott recently had his son vaccinated and urges others to do the same: If you could prevent your child from getting certain cancers early on with a simple vaccination, why wouldn’t you?

The effort to spread truth and facts about the HPV vaccination is not just for those HPV cancer survivors with children or children eligible for vaccination. Many in our community regularly share and have been able to impact those in their network. For example, Lucy Philips is an active member of our community and will be attending Cervivor School next month in Cape Cod. She faithfully shares her journey and recently wrote to us. Lucy shares:

Kelly’s son, Noah

Having battled Cervical Cancer myself, there is absolutely no hesitation in my decision to vaccinate my children with the HPV Vaccine…. not only my daughters, but my son too! For now, my children are too young to receive the HPV Vaccine, but that doesn’t stop me from encouraging other parents to have their children vaccinated. It is amazing how many people are completely unaware of HPV and the fact that there is a vaccine which prevents the most harmful strains of HPV. I feel like it’s my responsibility to inform other parents and share with others my own personal battle with an HPV related cancer. A friend from work recently scheduled her son to have the HPV Vaccine and this is what she sent me:

“I never considered vaccinating my boys until listening to everything you went through. I wasn’t even aware that boys were at risk of HPV or HPV related cancers. If I had known, I would have vaccinated my boys sooner! My 17-year-old son just received the vaccine and my 15-year-old son will be receiving it soon. I will do anything within my power to make sure my boys do not suffer from something that is completely preventable”. – Kelly Green

Cervivor Ambassador Holly Lawson doesn’t have children. However, she frequently shares her cervical cancer journey with those in her social media network. Just last month, she shared a message from a college friend who had been impacted by following her posts: Thank you for sharing your story and updates. I thought you might like to know you have encouraged our family. My 11-year-old got the HPV vaccine because you shared how important it was. It was you who made that so clear to me about how important that was. His doctor felt it was important as well, but your story made it real to me and helped me see past the fear of that vaccine.

What testimonies to the power of sharing our stories and making a difference! The HPV Vaccination is safe, effective, and is cancer prevention. This month as you’re preparing the kiddos with new clothes, shoes, and school supplies, why not make sure they are prepared for a future that is FREE of an HPV related cancer? You can’t protect them from everything, but you can protect them from high risk strains of HPV. Act now, to protect them later.

Schedule an appointment to speak with your doctor or pediatrician today.

For further information regarding safety and recommendations, visit the Center for Disease Control HPV Vaccines: Vaccinating Your Preteen or Teen.