National Immunization Awareness Month

There is something about the start of a school year each August, that brings excitement. We go shopping for new clothes, fresh school supplies, and the perfect lunch box. It can feel like New Year’s as we look at a new academic year, with new instructors, and a clean start. August is also National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). As you and your family are preparing for an amazing school year, Cervivor wants to remind you to make sure the kiddos are “back to school ready” by ensuring they are current on their immunizations, including the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine.

At Cervivor our community is committed to staying engaged in the immunization conversation year-round. We regularly share our Cervivor stories in hopes to change the narrative and stigma around HPV related cancers and the importance of the lifesaving HPV vaccination. We routinely share out on social media, as it is a quick yet powerful way to show our cervical cancer journey and to remind people in our lives that it is almost always preventable.  In honor of NIAM, we wanted to share what we’ve been up to in our fight to end HPV related cancer.

Elizabeth Holliman is a longtime Cervivor Ambassador whose oldest son was finally eligible for the HPV Vaccine this month. Elizabeth is making sure R.J. is protected: I vowed to protect my sons from the HPV strains that can cause cancer, it can be prevented by the vaccine. Here’s my R.J. getting his first round of the vaccine today. I never want my kids to go through what I did, or many others have when it’s preventable. It’s just that simple. There was no hesitation.  When you know better, you do better. 

Scott Courville is an oropharyngeal cancer survivor and an active member of our online HPV cancer support group. Scott recently had his son vaccinated and urges others to do the same: If you could prevent your child from getting certain cancers early on with a simple vaccination, why wouldn’t you?

The effort to spread truth and facts about the HPV vaccination is not just for those HPV cancer survivors with children or children eligible for vaccination. Many in our community regularly share and have been able to impact those in their network. For example, Lucy Philips is an active member of our community and will be attending Cervivor School next month in Cape Cod. She faithfully shares her journey and recently wrote to us. Lucy shares:

Kelly’s son, Noah

Having battled Cervical Cancer myself, there is absolutely no hesitation in my decision to vaccinate my children with the HPV Vaccine…. not only my daughters, but my son too! For now, my children are too young to receive the HPV Vaccine, but that doesn’t stop me from encouraging other parents to have their children vaccinated. It is amazing how many people are completely unaware of HPV and the fact that there is a vaccine which prevents the most harmful strains of HPV. I feel like it’s my responsibility to inform other parents and share with others my own personal battle with an HPV related cancer. A friend from work recently scheduled her son to have the HPV Vaccine and this is what she sent me:

“I never considered vaccinating my boys until listening to everything you went through. I wasn’t even aware that boys were at risk of HPV or HPV related cancers. If I had known, I would have vaccinated my boys sooner! My 17-year-old son just received the vaccine and my 15-year-old son will be receiving it soon. I will do anything within my power to make sure my boys do not suffer from something that is completely preventable”. – Kelly Green

Cervivor Ambassador Holly Lawson doesn’t have children. However, she frequently shares her cervical cancer journey with those in her social media network. Just last month, she shared a message from a college friend who had been impacted by following her posts: Thank you for sharing your story and updates. I thought you might like to know you have encouraged our family. My 11-year-old got the HPV vaccine because you shared how important it was. It was you who made that so clear to me about how important that was. His doctor felt it was important as well, but your story made it real to me and helped me see past the fear of that vaccine.

What testimonies to the power of sharing our stories and making a difference! The HPV Vaccination is safe, effective, and is cancer prevention. This month as you’re preparing the kiddos with new clothes, shoes, and school supplies, why not make sure they are prepared for a future that is FREE of an HPV related cancer? You can’t protect them from everything, but you can protect them from high risk strains of HPV. Act now, to protect them later.

Schedule an appointment to speak with your doctor or pediatrician today.

For further information regarding safety and recommendations, visit the Center for Disease Control HPV Vaccines: Vaccinating Your Preteen or Teen.

 

Cervivor School to Legislature

In September 2015 I was able to attend my first Cervivor School.  I traveled to San Diego and I did not know what to expect. I knew I was going to meet women who had a similar experience to me, women I could relate to, women with cervical cancer experiences.  I was no stranger to cervical cancer or sharing my story at this point, I had first been diagnosed in 2012 and I started sharing my story on my blog so that others could hear my story.  I had the opportunity to share my story on video so that it could be shared for #CCAM 2016 to medical providers by a company.  I thought I was sharing my story impactfully.  What was I going to learn at Cervivor School?

I can remember sitting in Cervivor School in aww of all the women surrounding me.  Amazed at the amount of women who were ready to get out there and share their personal lives and stories.  It was great to see all the different ways these women were ready to advocate.  It added fuel to my advocacy.  It was like igniting a fire.  I transitioned my blog from just a place that I could share information about my story to a place where I could share information with purpose.  I started using a call to action approach whenever possible.  Cervivor School gave me the tools to reach out to media and have my voice heard.

All of the tools I have learned from Cervivor have helped me to grow in my advocacy.  I learned a lot about speaking to legislators and how to reach out effectively.  My Cervivor story being on the the Cervivor website has been really beneficial for me because if I am working to contact someone I can easily share my story in a great format.

One year ago I was invited to go to the Indiana Statehouse and testify on behalf of House Bill 1278.  This is a bill that was written so that Indiana would need to develop a strategic plan to reduce the mortality and morbidity rates of cervical cancer by December 2018.  I was honored to testify in front of the Senate Health Committee as well as the House Health Committee.  In each committee the HB1278 passed unanimously.

I was welcomed to be in attendance when Governor Holcomb signed the bill into law; a bill that passed unanimously through the entire Indiana Senate and Indiana House.  It was such an amazing experience.  It even helped check something off of my Living Life List – I was able to help pass a bill to make a difference in the cervical cancer space.

Yesterday I was invited back to the Indiana Statehouse by Representative Sharon Negele, the author of HB1278.  I was invited in for a press conference where she was presented a Proclamation in honor of January being Cervical Health Awareness Month.  Following the press conference I was able to go onto the floor in front of the Indiana House and share my excitement with the representatives that Indiana is placing value on cervical cancer awareness and is dedicated in reducing the mortality and morbidity rates of cervical cancer.

I am so glad that I was able to attend my first Cervivor School and become a Cervivor Ambassador.  All of the tools I was given led to helping to make such a huge difference here in Indiana.

Have you shared your story on Cervivor yet? Follow this link to share your Cervivor story.  It is organized into a great format with prompts that can guide you through sharing your story.

Are you interested in becoming an active advocate?  Cervivor School 2018 information is available here.