Reaching That First Big Milestone

Five years? How is it possible?

Five years. It seems like much longer yet it’s still so fresh in my mind. I have spent so much time processing through what happened to me – the good and the bad. Where there was darkness, there was so much beauty to equal it out. Cue the universe’s synchronicities and all the cardinal sightings.

Six years ago, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer for the first time at age 24. They found spots in my lungs after only being six months into remission. It was truly devastating! I was back in school full-time, working full-time, and trying to regain some normalcy.

But life had other plans for me.

I went through diagnostic test after diagnostic test to confirm it was cancer. Indeed, I would be facing my mortality once again. I will never forget the words my oncologist spoke to me after I received my first three treatments, “There are 7-9% of women who experience a complete interval response to treatment. You are one of those 7-9%. You don’t have any evidence of disease.”

I knew I had been given such an incredible gift and that I must not waste this second chance at life. What I didn’t expect was to find my voice as loud as I’ve made it. I stumbled across Cervivor through a hashtag on Instagram – I didn’t see this as a coincidence. I fundraised my way to Cervivor School in 2017 where I flew out to Delray Beach, Florida and learned how to use my voice in advocacy. The rest is history.

I’m still processing through many of accomplishments that I’ve experienced over the last five years including the idea that I’ve graduated three times despite my diagnosis and treatments, and that I’ve reached my first big cancerversary milestone. I’ve jumped at every Cervivor opportunity to be a part of change from cancer panel speaking opportunities to proclamation signings with Iowa’s governor for Cervical Cancer Awareness Month (January) to volunteering with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACSCAN) to protect or improve policies related to cancer care. I also serve as a leader with Above and Beyond Cancer to make the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) community visible locally. Because of this work, I’ve been given three awards from Cervivor, ACSCAN, and Above and Beyond Cancer.

I know I wouldn’t be able to do this work alone, it takes a village to make a difference – to make change happen. It is exhausting and it can take a toll but it is also truly rewarding to see our impact taking place across the globe. I’ve met so many resilient and passionate advocates (along with their family members) – some are still with us while others have succumbed to their diagnoses. As a survivor and patient advocate, I had to accept and understand that this was going to be a common occurrence in our community but it didn’t make it suck any less.

However challenging this work may be, I wouldn’t trade this personal and professional growth for anything. Here’s to 5 years cancer free!

Morgan is a metastatic recurrent cervical cancer survivor, a 3x award winning patient advocate, and our Community Manager for Cervivor. She resides in Iowa with her boyfriend, Tony, their cat, Jeezy, and dachshund, Sassy. Morgan continues to advocate tirelessly in hopes her story can help others.

Know Your Existence: Becky’s ‘Why’

Back in September 2019, I attended Cervivor School to become an ambassador. I had no idea what to expect. I consider myself to be pretty sociable but I was beyond nervous and terrified when I stepped off the plane and landed in Chicago. As I’m checking into the hotel, who is the very first person I see, Tamika Felder. Even though she was running around making sure all the behind the scene details were perfect, she still took the time to hug me (pre-covid obvi 🙄) and made me feel so welcomed. I immediately felt a sense of ease and the nerves instantly turned into excitement. 

We had the pleasure of having, Roshanda Pratt as a guest speaker and she blew me away. She had us write down our “why statement” and then from there she wanted us to come up with three words that summed up our why. Know Your Existence is mine. I wanted my advocacy to be geared towards mothers – I wanted them to know that their life and checkups are equally as important as their families. I wanted minority women, especially in the Asian culture where below-the-belt talk is something that is rarely ever discussed, to be aware and know how important their checkups with their healthcare providers are.

I wanted women to Know Their Existence matters. 

Now I am amid a cancer reoccurrence and treatment. Who would have known that my own words now resonate specifically to me this time around. Know Your Existence, Becky. Push through, fight, give it your all, be your own advocate, speak up, research, question your doctors and live in the moment… Know Your Existence

My sister-in-law had these shirts made for me shortly after I returned from Cervivor School. She planned on surprising me with them but when we found out about the reoccurrence she sprang into action and had the women in my family take photos to show their support. I always talk about my amazing army of supporters and my Cervivor sisters are part of my tribe. I didn’t discover Cervivor until a month after my radical hysterectomy in August 2018 so to have the love and support from a group of women who just get IT has been a blessing this time around too.

Becky was originally diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2018, at age 35, and quickly became an active member of the Cervivor community, joining Facebook Group discussions, attending MeetUps, participating in the September 2019 Cervivor School and becoming a Cervivor Ambassador. She was diagnosed with a recurrence in late-2019, just weeks after returning from Cervivor School. Read her Cervivor story and learn how, amid this most recent diagnosis, her Cervivor Spark and passion to prevent other women from cervical cancer gets stronger each day.