Cervivor is committed to closing the disparity gaps that have plagued communities of color for decades. In an effort to close those gaps, Cervivor invited cervical cancer patients and survivors from around the United States to participate in the Cervical Cancer Patient Advocacy Retreat for Communities of Color in our nation’s capitol, Washington D.C.
Why is this so important to our mission?
Research shows that while the rate of cervical cancer has been declining for decades in the U.S., health disparities persist. Hispanic women have the highest incidence rate of cervical cancer, followed by non-Hispanic Black women. Additionally, Black women are more likely to die from the disease than women of any other race or ethnicity.
So, what is the consistent theme with these health disparities?
The consistent theme for these health disparities are health literacy and trust within the communities of color. As we navigated these themes, Cervivor ensured that each attendee:
- Had a safe place to share their struggles, hurdles, and concerns in reference to their community and cervical cancer.
- Was provided with information concerning cervical cancer, treatments, and screening.
- Understood their role as a trustworthy change agent in their community.
- Embraced the opportunity to learn from various speakers and their fellow survivors about how they could utilize their voices to end cervical cancer in their community.
- Developed a strategic plan to impact their communities specifically.
- Made a commitment to assist in closing the cervical cancer disparity gap in their community.
It’s imperative that those impacted by cervical cancer have the knowledge and empowerment to lead the charge in changing the narrative for communities of color. Read the personal testimonies from a few of the attendees and the progress they have made since the retreat below.
Gwendolyn shares her thoughts on what this retreat meant to her:
“The Community of Color Retreat had great impact on my life and I have not been the same since. The moment I arrived at the retreat, I noticed everything was planned with so much love and hope, and personalized for us as a collective but also individually as well. We cried, we laughed, we learned, we inspired each other, we listened, and we gained confidence and much knowledge to not only advocate for ourselves but for others as well – within our families, jobs, and communities.“
Since the retreat, Gwendolyn has been instrumental in planning the National Patient Advocacy Awareness Day event with other Houston Cervivors and in co-leading an upcoming health fair for cervical cancer awareness.
Rosalinda shares her insights:
“For many of us, conversations easily continued into dinner, late evening, and early morning coffee meet-ups! We were clearly vibing and opening up to be vulnerable, witnessing and holding space for each other. Native American, African American, Asian, and Latina cervical cancer survivor’s coming together to listen, share, teach, and support each other was a powerful experience! My heart is filled with gratitude for how effortlessly this all unfolded. My most precious take away? Tamika’s loving challenge that following the retreat we step up and use our talents, abilities, gifts, unique perspectives to Do Something small or big, to end cervical cancer.“
After her retreat experience, Rosalinda has jumped in on National Patient Advocacy Day planning, joined as a Cervivor Español Outreach Committee Member, and continues to set goals for reaching low-income populations to ensure they have access to education, screening, and cancer prevention resources.
Janice gave us her thoughts too:
“Hope – grounds for believing that something good will happen. This retreat provided a breadth of information about studies on cervical cancer, as well as how to raise awareness in our communities. Discussing the health disparities across the nation opened my eyes that more needs to be done and that we need to be able to have open, sometimes uncomfortable dialogue to inform others so that they do not have to go through the same things that we did.”
Following the retreat, Janice has been spreading awareness about HPV and cervical cancer through various tabling events at her local college campus and by helping Cervivor raise funds during an early 2023 Kendra Scott Gives Back event.
Although the retreat has ended, the work does not stop. Each attendee made the commitment as a Cervivor Patient Advocate to assist in closing the cervical cancer disparity gap; by creating a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion which includes supporting, educating, and motivating their communities that have been affected by cervical cancer.
It’s a great reminder that each day we all have an opportunity to provoke change by elevating our voices. We hold the power to save lives for generations to come. Help us continue to shine a light on these disparities by sharing our content with your networks.
Cervivor, as an organization, authentically embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion across all aspects, ensuring that individuals from various backgrounds feel valued, respected, and represented. The organization recognizes that diversity encompasses a wide range of identities and experiences, including persons with disabilities, religious or ethnic minorities, people of color, native/Indigenous peoples, women, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
Interested in learning more about future Cervical Cancer Patient Advocacy Retreats for Communities of Color? Connect with us at [email protected]!