Our Supporting Cast

There are so many healthcare members that make up a cancer patient’s medical team before, during and after treatment. You want an oncologist who is caring, a radiation team who’ll listen to your concerns and a chemotherapy PA who helps you navigate your side effects successfully. You may see these people more than your own family so you really want successful partnerships. You literally are putting your life in their hands and these people become your ‘Dream Team’.But what about those other everyday team members you see all too frequently during treatment. The unsung hero who’s name you may not always remember (thank you chemo fog) but they leave a lasting impression because they took the time to hear you and you connected with them

Like the receptionist at your infusion center who always has a smile and a kind hello for you. Maybe it’s the phlebotomist who knows your veins like the back of her own hand. Or the hospital nurse who gives you some of her lavender essential oil because it’s your third stay in the past two months. Or how about the diagnostic technician who looks just like Dr. McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy and it makes you blush. Every time.

These people become the extras in your own Lifetime movie. You talk about their fishing trip to a place you both know well, or you bond over the difficulty raising a tween. These connections and conversations helped me to forget for a moment why I was in that hospital bed or infusion center. These interactions made me feel ‘normal’ when everything else in my life was completely out of control. Just wanting things to be ‘normal’ is often what I craved the most.

One of my favorite moments was at my final chemotherapy session. It was a very long eight hour infusion, and I may have been the only patient left in the infusion center. I noticed there wasn’t a bell to ring like I saw so many patients do on social media. It seemed so anticlimactic — no drumroll or dancing unicorns? So I sat there holding my husband’s hand and we both got a bit teary.

Suddenly I had a kind of out-of-body experience and I started singing Semisonic’s Closing Time, and very badly I might add. “Closing time you don’t have to go home…” And then from across the room I hear my nurse belt out, “but ya can’t stay here.”  We all laughed through our tears and hugs were shared.

I recall this memory when I need a reminder that the world is filled with kindness, even in our darkest moments and that there are amazing nurses, doctors, healthcare providers that give 110% to all their patients. These are my heroes.

Carol Lacey is our Lead Cervivor Ambassador and has been advocating on behalf of Cervivor since 2016. Watch Carol share her story on CervivorTV.

That’s a Wrap!

Can you believe tomorrow is October 1? We can’t either! We have had such an amazing GCAM that we’re not sure we are ready for it to end! It has been an incredible month of advocacy and awareness here at Cervivor. Our community has been absolutely on fire with everything from table events and Cervivor School, to Capitol Hill meetings. We are so proud of all our Ambassadors have accomplished this month. Check it out!

Sarah at Athena’s Run

Cervivor kicked off Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month events with Athena’s Run in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Cervivor Ambassador, Sarah Nielsen, generously hosted a table again this year for the expo. She provided their running community with info about cervical cancer prevention, screening, and of course Cervivor! We were also honored to be asked to be part of the Coming Full Circle Health Fair in New York, NY again! We love this event focused on health information and resources for the community in NYC. Ambassador, Vanessa Santiago, hosted a table and represented Cervivor, as she was able to share about HPV and cervical cancer.

Planting seeds year-round for events during awareness months is an important part of advocacy and something our community strives for. Kristine Sprigler has built a wonderful partnership with UPS and this GCAM was asked to host another Cervivor table at the UPS Employee Night Shift Health Fair! What a great way to advocate and get the word out! Paulette Apostolou is another Ambassador who has cultivated a partnership with her care team and area doctors over the years. This month she hosted a table at the University of Chicago for the Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Day for gyn cancer survivors. She has gone from patient to advocate right in her local community!

Kristine (left) on Capitol Hill

GCAM didn’t stop there. When Kristine wasn’t hosting table events she and Cervivor Ambassador Mary Baker were working with partner organizations, American Cancer Society and the Society of Gynecologic Oncology, to advocate for cervical cancer awareness, prevention, and gynecologic cancer research on Capitol Hill. Mary also participated and shared her Cervivor story as part of the Virginia HPV Leadership Summit at VCU. We are so proud! Way to go Mary and Kristine!

We closed out GCAM with a bang at Cervivor School Massachusetts. Our keynote speaker was the dynamic Nancy G. Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen®. She has dedicated her life’s work to changing the narrative of breast cancer and bringing global awareness to women’s health. She found great inspiration with Cervivor and our stories touched her.

Cervivor School attendees with Nancy Brinker

Other fantastic speakers like Roshanda Pratt, who motivated everyone to find their why, and Dana D’Alessandro Haseotes who talked about our sexual health after cancer. We also met Laura Brennan, our International Cervivor Spotlight from Ireland, who shared how her one voice is making a huge impact in educating her country on the importance of the HPV vaccine. Laura brought her joy, passion and incredible advocacy voice to our weekend.  Rounding out the weekend were Chi Bahk who spoke about social media & vaccine confidence, as well as Jennifer Sienko with the National HPV Roundtable who dug deep on how we as advocates can respond with confidence to all things HPV. We began each day with Cervivor Wellness Instructor, Patti Murillo-Casa. Patti gave us a preview of the Survivor Slimdown project and inspired us to begin each day with movement and gratitude. The new attendees found their advocacy groove, new friendships, and left knowing that Cervivor support comes while we are in action. Cervivor is a movement and we are making a difference!

Cervivor School fun!

Cervivor is so thankful for such a productive GCAM. We have just enough time to catch our breath and start planning for CCAM in January! Stay tuned! Please make sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter and follow us on social media, to get the latest and greatest from our Cervivor Community.

Team Cervivor