Why I’m a cervical cancer advocate

ericaSometimes life takes you in directions you never expected. I have never thought of myself as a writer. I never set out to be an inspiration for people or even to be an advocate for a cause. I also never planned to hear the words, “You have cancer.”

Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans. I started out blogging for very selfish reasons: I wanted to be able to update my family and friends without having to call each person individually. I wanted a way to document what was happening to me, and it was honestly therapeutic to get all my feelings out in writing.

I didn’t set out to make a difference, be an inspiration to others, or even to create cervical cancer awareness. As my cancer journey evolved, I was contacted by a variety of individuals and there was one common connection: they had all seen and were touched by my blog. It was after these individuals started contacting me that I realized my blogging wasn’t just for me, or even just for people who knew me. It was a platform to inspire others and spread awareness about cervical cancer and HPV.

Today, advocacy is an important part of my life. I have been fortunate enough to work with Roche to develop a video chronicling my story which has been used to reach out to doctors across the state of Indiana to express the importance of screening for HPV. Through Cervivor, I have had the opportunity to join a group of women who share my passion for advocacy. I had the fabulous experience of attending Cervivor School San Diego to learn more about how to effectively advocate for awareness and how to share my story in the most impactful way.

Cervivor School ignited a flame for advocacy. Working along with these passionate women, there are several great things in the works. We are working to do outreach at a variety of colleges to help educate students and professionals about HPV and cervical cancer, organizing more opportunities for Cervivor schools, and developing a fabulous campaign for January, which is Cervical Cancer Awareness month. So, why is advocacy important? Well, for starters, did you know that it is possible to completely eradicate cervical cancer? Let that sink in for a minute.

According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that there will be 12,900 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in 2015 and about 4,100 women will die from cervical cancer in 2015 alone! That is more than 11 women per day dying from a cancer that is preventable! I cannot imagine a better reason to advocate.

We could end this cancer! We could end these deaths! Advocacy is important, no matter how big or small. I have embraced my passion for advocacy. Afterall, if everyone just waited for someone else to do it, it would never get done.

Cervivor Erica

Facing Mortality

I meet many strong women through this organization, and Erica Frazier Stum is no exception. While at Cervivor School two weeks ago in San Diego, Erica was fighting off fevers and was not feeling well overall and she never missed a beat.

She recently wrote about facing her own mortality, which is something many of you have faced or are facing right now. I hope you are as inspired by Erica’s words as I was.


1075677I should precaution you, this isn’t like any post I’ve had before.  This isn’t my normal “positive cancer post”.  This is a raw, unfiltered, real post.  This is the type of post most cancer patients keep neatly stored in his/her head and might not even bring out in a safe cancer support group.  Yet, here it is.  This will be hard to read if you know me personally.  This might be hard to read if you don’t know me personally but continue to follow my story.

This post is hard to hear because it deals with mortality.  It might bring up fears you have had for me that I have never really acknowledged.  I don’t write this lightly.  I know many of my readers, I am your wife, mother (once Wylee is old enough to read this story, if he chooses), daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin, co-worker, friend.  I know this is scary.  I know it is something no one wants to talk about.  Yet, I need to talk about it.

Read Erica’s full post.