Supporting Above-the-Belt Cancer

September gave us an opportunity to bring more awareness to multiple gynecologic cancers that affect over 604,000 people globally every year. As below-the-belt cancer activists, Cervivor knows how important it is to talk about cancers that have less visibility than others. The more we share, the more awareness we raise.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) and there was a time when no one was talking about cancer, especially ‘boob’ cancer. It was organizations like Susan G. Komen and the National Breast Cancer Foundation that paved the way. Yet, despite the sea of October pink, an estimated 685,000 people globally died from breast cancer in 2020. Inclusive healthcare and continued awareness is still needed to reduce this number.

Here’s where both above- and below-the-belt cancers are similar: They are all destructive and take far too much from us. Many of us struggle to accept our changed bodies; the physical and mental toll it takes to rediscover ourselves. We are all in the ‘cancer club’ regardless of what color our awareness ribbon reflects and conversations help break down taboos and stigmas.

This month we are sporting pink and supporting our fellow breast cancer survivors and patients all while waving our teal & white. The Cervivor community has members who are both breast and cervical cancer survivors – like Karen and Laura, who make sure to share their stories, especially in October and again in January for Cervical Cancer Awareness Month (CCAM).

We also support our community members – like Kadiana, who knew she was at risk for the BRCA-1 gene after losing her mother to ovarian cancer. We have a commitment to support inclusive cancer prevention efforts because by doing so, we elevate those less discussed cancers like cervical. We will call upon our cancer community friends and partners come January to spread our message of cervical cancer prevention, so let’s give a voice to breast cancer awareness and prevention this month!

Celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month as a Cervivor

As cervical cancer survivors, we advocate to bring more awareness to cervical cancer and all gynecologic cancers. Our cancers do not have the same visibility as breast cancer but there was a time when breast cancer was not talked about, let alone celebrated.

It was the work of Nancy G. Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen® who really changed the narrative of breast cancer and started the ‘pink revolution’. When Ms. Brinker spoke to our 2018 Cervivor School attendees, she shared with us how it was an uphill battle to bring visibility to a ‘woman’s cancer’, a taboo subject that was only whispered about. She persisted and today we see the positive outcome of her work; the glass ceiling she broke through for others to follow.

We know that we still have so much work to do to bring this kind of recognition to cervical cancer but what’s important to remember is that above and below the belt cancers all take so much away from us – breasts, reproductive organs, cervixes, vaginas, and so much more. We may struggle with redefining our womanhood and we carry our physical and emotional scars with us beyond our cancer diagnosis and treatment.

These cancers change us forever.

As women, we fight hard every day for equality; to have a seat at the table, to be heard. We should be able to look to each other for support, especially when it comes to our bodies.

We are all in the cancer club regardless of what color our awareness ribbon reflects.

Today, more than ever, is the time to come together and advocate for women’s health. Every month. Every day. We can support our breast cancer friends this month and come January, just like in September, these friends will be sharing and supporting our message of cervical cancer prevention, helping us paint the world teal and white.