Cervivor School Nashville Was Outstanding

The 13th patient advocacy training known as Cervivor School was held in Music City U.S.A. or better known as Nashville, Tennessee. This was an intimate group, made up of first-time and returning attendees and we hosted some of the most dynamic speakers to educate and empower our 2022 class.

Like any other Cervivor School, we kicked it off with a special Welcome Reception where attendees were able to mingle and get to know each other right off the bat. We heard inspiring words from Heather Banks, Lead Advocacy Educator, and Tamika Felder, Cervivor Founder and Chief Visionary.

Tamika and Heather kicked off the first day with a dedication to and moment of silence for those who have died from their cervical cancer and are no longer able to share their stories. It was a powerful reminder that our mission to end cervical cancer is not over and there is still much work to do. Tamika also shared how putting a human face to cervical cancer is a critical part of our cause and why we should share our stories.

Later we heard from Community Engagement Liaison, Morgan Newman, Lead Cervivor Ambassador, Carol Lacey, and Cervivor Ambassadors, Karla Chavez and Karen North. They shared what it means to be a patient advocate, how they fulfill the role to make an impact, and what advice they have for others in mastering survivorship and advocacy. Then we heard from Michelle Whitlock, author of  “How I Lost My Uterus and Found My Voice,” and how she decided to use her voice after cervical cancer followed by empowerment groups and a session on life during and after treatment with Heather.

Cervivor Ambassadors Carol Lacey and Morgan Newman led an interactive session, Healing Through Writing, in honor of Erica Frazier Stum who thought of and led the session in the years prior. After listening and sharing each others’ creative writing, we ended the day by creating an individualized advocacy action plan to be put in place after leaving Cervivor School.

Day two is our Medical Day where we get the latest and most advanced information on the human papillomavirus (HPV), the HPV vaccine, and cervical cancer screening. We started the day by understanding cervical cancer screening guidelines, the impact of the patient perspective, and how important it is in our advocacy work. It was a great reminder from Dr. Lia Bos that our stories are powerful and when we partner our voices with physicians and clinicians in the field, we leverage our impact even more. We also heard from Andrea Stubbs, MPA, representing our community partner, St. Jude, and their HPV Cancer Prevention Program. She shared her work and provided ideas and information about supporting HPV vaccination efforts so we can powerfully advocate for vaccination as prevention!

We were inspired by Catherine Tyler as she led us through a discussion on living with and through significant illness and treatment while staying true to our aspirations and our authentic selves. And Tamika and Heather helped our attendees practice potential advocacy scenarios, establish advocacy norms, and finalize our advocacy action plans to put in place after leaving Cervivor School.

Lastly, we rounded out the Cervivor School weekend with a graduation ceremony for our attendees and Tamika awarded not one but two Cervivor Champions for 2022!

Jenn Myers and Kimberly Williams have both embodied what a Cervivor Champion is.

Jenn is a metastatic and recurrent cervical cancer patient currently undergoing treatment and is still leading and advocating despite it all and Kimberly continuously shares the importance of vaccination and cancer screening when it comes to HPV, cervical cancer, and communities of color.

Our newest Cervivor School graduates are empowered, ready to share their stories, and eager to connect with leaders in their local communities. Team Cervivor cannot wait to see their advocacy in action and how they decide to make their survivorship count!

We would like to extend our gratitude to our Cervivor School Sponsors Hologic, Seagen, Genmab, and Genentech.

Clinical Trial Awareness Month: Cervical Cancer Needs YOU!

That first season of a TV, Netflix, or cable series is a total experiment. Producers wonder how the characters will resonate with the target audience. Advertisers are hopeful that their two-minute commercials and ads are crafted well enough to bring in sales. And actors cross their fingers that fans love each episode more and more, and demand a second season. The result: a cult following of a show that lasts for years, providing viewers the comfort of entertainment and solace.

While it may be a stretch, we can think about clinical trials in the same way. This method of medical research, is in fact, a pilot program for scientists to experiment, test, and prove what works, and what can result in medical breakthroughs – again, for the comfort and solace of those impacted by health challenges like cervical cancer.

You may have heard us at Cervivor championing the dire importance of clinical trials. We continue to stress the importance as this is the only way we can pave a way toward slowing down the loss of members in our community, thriving without having to lose parts of our bodies, and ultimately eliminating cervical cancer.

We said it before:

  • We need clinical trials to drive progress.
  • We need trials to determine the safety and effectiveness of every type of treatment.
  • And in order to determine that safety and effectiveness, we need volunteers.

We choose not to subscribe to the stigma around being a “guinea pig” or a “test dummy.” Without clinical trials, treatment, diagnosis, and prevention efforts are slowed down. The effectiveness of new medication, treatment, and therapy can only be proven through trial – and yes, error. Take a look at the thousands of trials around the globe currently recruiting patients, in addition to those that are active, completed, and terminated with results. Thanks to people including several of our Cervivor community members like Teolita, Erica, Jenn, and Linda much more work is being done daily to make sure our community – and the generation after us, and after them – can thrive.

“I decided that if this clinical trial was good enough for Jimmy Carter, it was good enough for me!” – Teolita Rickenbacker

It’s important to note that Cervivor advocates for cultural competence throughout our medical journey, including in the clinical trials process – and we should all be looking out for this. This means, making sure that the medical community understands, and is intentional about how they communicate with a diverse audience of women, whether Black, Brown, young, mature, and those who speak a language not native to their medical team. It is super important that the medical community, including those coordinating trials, speak different languages, and understand the experience of those who are part of a focus group. This important aspect aids in building and maintaining trust with those participating, which, in turn, helps us trust in both the process and the expertise of trial organizers.

This process takes a lot of teamwork: scientists work on hypotheses, patients report on progress and challenges, and doctors monitor outcomes. The result: an increase in clarity, more answers, more awareness, more options, and longer lives. Have a discussion on clinical trials with your care team and support system. Learn more with these recommended resources:
https://www.webmd.com/cancer/cervical-cancer/cervical-cancer-clinical-trials
https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/home

If you have experience with a clinical trial and want to share it with us, contact us at info@cervivor.org.