Embracing Resilience: Celebrating Survivors, Heritage, and Pride This June

As June dawns upon us, it brings with it a vast spectrum of significance to our community, weaving together the threads of awareness, diversity, resilience, and celebration. This month, we commemorate not just one, but three vital observances: National Cancer Survivors Month, Caribbean Heritage Month, and Pride Month. The community at Cervivor embraces the intersectionality of these occasions and honors the strength, courage, and vibrancy of those who embody their spirit. Read along with us as we navigate each thread.

National Cancer Survivors Month serves as a reminder of the estimated 20 million worldwide who have confronted the harrowing journey of cancer diagnosis and treatment. It’s a time to celebrate the resilience of survivors, who navigate through the storm of uncertainty with unwavering resolve. Each survivor’s story is a testament to strength, reminding us that hope can thrive even in the face of adversity.

Within the realm of cancer survivors, there exists a rich diversity, reflective of the world’s cultures and identities. This June, we also celebrate Caribbean Heritage Month, paying homage to the vibrant traditions, flavors, and rhythms of the Caribbean diaspora. From the sun-kissed beaches to the pulsating beats of Calypso and Reggae, the Caribbean exudes a spirit of resilience ingrained in its history of triumph over adversity. In honoring Caribbean heritage, we recognize the strength and unity cultivated by communities in the face of challenges, a resilience mirrored in the journey of cancer survivors.

Moreover, as we embrace the mosaic of identities that enrich our world, we also commemorate Pride Month, a time to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community’s courage, diversity, and resilience. LGBTQIA+ individuals facing cancer diagnoses often navigate unique challenges, from concerns about discrimination in healthcare to seeking inclusive support networks. Pride Month serves as a crucial time for visibility and acceptance, creating a culture of empowerment, inclusivity, and support for all those affected by cancer, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

At Cervivor, we understand the power of community, support, and solidarity in the face of adversity. Our mission transcends borders and boundaries, embracing individuals from all walks of life, united by the shared experience of cervical cancer. Through advocacy, education, and support, we strive to empower survivors, caregivers, and allies to navigate their journey with courage and resilience.

As we reflect on the significance of National Cancer Survivors Month, Caribbean Heritage Month, and Pride Month, let us honor the resilience, diversity, and strength that define our collective human experience. Together, we stand as a testament to the indomitable spirit of the human soul, capable of overcoming even the darkest of storms with unwavering grace and resilience.

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What I Learned from Cervical Cancer

I was diagnosed with stage IB2 cervical cancer in February 2017. After my diagnosis, I learned that January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. I learned that the colors of the cervical cancer ribbon are teal and white. And I learned that it was hard to find cervical cancer support groups on social media, until I found Cervivor. 

At that time of my diagnosis, I was 31 years old. I battled cervical cancer for nine months, had a hysterectomy in October 2018, and did 27 radiation treatments over five weeks in early 2019. At the end of treatment, I was hoping I would go back to living a normal life, hoping to have a positive outcome with positive results, and hoping to fully heal from having cervical cancer.

The most difficult part for me was the fear of having surgery, becoming anemic, dealing with pelvic infection or other body pain, and feeling alone. But most difficult has been that I can’t plan to have any more children due to my cancer treatment. 

Today, I am cancer free! I try to do my best to live a healthy life. I still go to the doctor for follow-ups and scans. I have learned the importance of continuing after-cancer care with your doctor. I have learned that it is important to get vaccines, like the HPV vaccine. I am thankful for my life after treatment. I am happy and excited that I was able to finish my higher education and receive my Bachelor’s Degree while battling cervical cancer. 

I have learned it is important to stay connected with other cervical cancer survivors, to get involved in the community, to go to events, to join Cervivor’s monthly Creating Connections meetups, and to support current fundraisers. As members of the Cervivor community, we all can learn from other cervical cancer survivors and raise awareness to end cervical cancer.

Rachel Sutton is a cervical cancer survivor from Orange County, California. She is a single mom who was diagnosed with stage IB2 cervical cancer at the age of 31. She underwent cancer treatment while raising her son and pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree.