Observing Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! This month, we pay tribute to the generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have shaped America’s history. Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month originated with Congress in the late 1970s and is recognized and celebrated worldwide today!

We are celebrating by honoring some of our resilient Cervivors and continuing to spread awareness to reduce health disparities within the community but first, let’s take a look at some of the glaring statistics.

In 2022, the American Cancer Society released their Cancer Facts & Figures report stating the rates of new cancer cases and the rates of cancer deaths among Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders varied widely, mostly because of significant differences in exposure to cancer risk factors.

Of these findings, they found that:

  • Cancer is the leading cause of death in the Asian and Pacific Islander population in the US.
  • In 2022, an estimated 14,100 cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed and about 4,280 deaths will occur in the US.
  • Large variations in cancer occurrence within the API population reflect diversity in terms of geographic origin, language, acculturation, and socioeconomic status.
  • According to the US Census Bureau, in 2020, 20% of Black and 17% of Hispanic/ Latino populations lived below the poverty line, compared to 8% of non-Hispanic White (White) and Asian populations.
  • In addition, in 2019, 10% of Black and 19% of Hispanic/Latino populations were uninsured, compared to 6% of White and 7% of Asian populations.
  • Cervical cancer incidence rates among Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Laotian women decreased dramatically from 1990 to 2008, a change that has been attributed to increases in screening and treatment in these groups.
  • The use of the Pap test within the past 3 years is highest among Filipino women (83%, the same rate as in non-Hispanic whites), and lowest among Chinese women (66%).
  • The 5-year relative survival rate for cervical cancer is 66% overall, but ranges from 39% for Black women 65 years of age and older to 79% for White women under 50, and from 92% for localized-stage disease to 18% for distant-stage.

Meet some of the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in our Cervivor community who want to change these statistics!

Meet Arlene, a Washington state Cervivor who recently shared her story to help make a difference in her community. She says, “In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month, I am humbled to share Part 1 of my cervical cancer journey! It’s time to RISE UP and be a voice! I am no longer ashamed!”

Meet Gina, a cervical cancer patient residing in Maryland. She just learned a year ago about her cancer diagnosis less than a week after turning 32, and 13 weeks after learning she was pregnant. Hear directly from Gina as she shares her story in our CervivorTV video below – We know you will appreciate, empathize with, and want to share with your networks.

We are also super excited to highlight California Cervivor, Joslyn Chaiprasert-Paguio. We love Joslyn because of her energy and advocacy, and if you’ve listened to the first episode of Season 2 of the Cervivor Podcast, you know we are happy to announce that she will be taking over as the host of the podcast! Joslyn will be bringing a new perspective as a Gen Z-er and as a recurrent cervical cancer survivor. Join us in wishing Joslyn success in this new role and get ready for a new season of robust conversations to help us cope, heal, learn and thrive. Don’t forget to visit the Cervivor Podcast on your preferred listening platform and subscribe to get alerts about new episodes!

The Asian culture rarely discusses below-the-belt talk, awareness of, and the knowledge of how important their checkups with their healthcare providers are and they are highly underrepresented in our public health data, however, storytelling has made a difference in the population by increasing the awareness of HPV, cervical cancer prevention screenings, and vaccination. Studies have shown an increase in a more positive outcomes in health data.

Beyond Arlene, Gina, and Joslyn’s stories, visit Cervivor.org to meet other cervical cancer survivors repping the Asian and Pacific Islander communities and share their stories this month with your networks!

What’s your story? Are you a cervical cancer survivor? Your story matters. Share your cervical cancer story and make a difference. Click this link to follow our easy-to-use template.

From One Young Mom to Another, I See You.

Just as different as all of our cancer journeys are, so are our parenting styles and choices. My children were ages four and seven when I wrote this letter. They did not know their mommy had battled cancer twice during their short time on Earth. One day I will tell them the whole story and I hope they draw strength from it. But for now, I am so very thankful I was able to attempt to preserve their innocence throughout my treatments. They knew I had to go to the doctor often for my “tummy.” They were six months and three years old at the time of my original diagnosis and ages three and six at the time of my recurrence.

They knew they had to be careful with my arm because of my PICC line. Upon reflection, I know I drew, and continue to draw, my strength from knowing they need me. They are the very reason I managed to smile through it all. Now that they are a few years older, they have some understanding and knowledge simply because of my cervical cancer advocacy efforts and fundraising events. They both enjoy sporting their teal and white and proudly bring me drawings or things they find that remind them of cervical cancer awareness ribbons.

Dear Young Mom Going Through Treatments, 

You are their safe place; their steady fortress of love, their ever-present cheerleader. Your kisses make all of their boo boos better and your hugs melt away all of their cares. A glance from you can make them feel as though they can conquer the world.

Though they haven’t a clue, they are your total source of strength during these days.

I see you, and you are doing an amazing job. 

I see your brow wrinkled with worry for them. Worrying if you are handling this season of life the right way, worrying about them overhearing adults at school talking about their mommy’s cancer, worrying about what their tiny lives could be without you.

I see you grabbing your wig or hat, lathering concealer over your chemo-ridden raccoon eyes, and mustering up a smile to appear normal in the eyes of your children. 

I see you planning your appointments strategically so as not to miss a baseball game or dance class. I see you insisting the doctor’s office squeeze your weekly chemo session in on their jam packed Wednesdays because there are no after school extras to be missed. I see you biting your tongue and fighting back tears while the unknowing tell you how great you ‘look’ to be going through treatments and how wonderful it is that you ‘feel’ like being out at that ballfield and dance studio.

I see you soaking up as much rest as you can during their school hours and timing your medicines just right so you can make a futile attempt to be present during homework, dinner, baths, and story time. 

You just want to make sure they get every ounce of the’ normal you’ there is.

Though you don’t believe it now, your tiny sources of strength could never see you as anything less than their beautiful source of unfailing love.

Though they don’t know it now, one day they will. One day they will look back, and realize just how beautifully and courageously strong you were for them. 

You can do this. 

Strength & Love from A Mom That’s Been There 

Tracie is a mother of two amazing boys, and along with her husband, they spend their time enjoying the beauty of Alabama. Tracie is a Cervivor School graduate, Cervivor Ambassador and a well-seasoned Lobby Day advocate.