It was just a few months ago when I first heard about Joey Feek of Joey and Rory. It wasn’t because of her angelic voice, her natural beauty, or her kind and happy spirit; she popped up in my newsfeed due to her battle with cervical cancer. As an advocate, the cervical cancer piece hooked me; all the other wonderful things about her and her family drew me in, and I’ve followed them closely for the last few months via media and her husband’s blog This Life I Live.
The more I read about Joey, the more I realized the similarities we shared, and I found myself somewhat reliving my cancer journey along with her. Joey was born and raised in central Indiana; so was I. We were both born in the fall of 1975, less than a month apart. Both of our lives have been touched by people with special needs; her daughter, my brother and my profession. I was diagnosed with cervical cancer shortly after giving birth; so was Joey. We also endured the same initial treatment plan during the beginning phases of our cervical cancer diagnoses, and we both have a strong faith. Following her story has brought back the physical pain of enduring treatments and side effects as well as the emotional pain of losing my fertility and the fear of potentially dying as a young mother and wife.
Sadly, Joey passed away last week, and there’s one thing I can’t get out of my mind:
This doesn’t have to keep happening to women!
The advances in medicine and options available today have the capability to eradicate cervical cancer and to protect not only ourselves, but the women in our lives: our mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, and even our favorite public figures. While not every woman has easy access to these advances and options, many of us do! Some women recognize this and take advantage of these opportunities; however, not enough of us are! Here’s a short list of some opportunities you shouldn’t be missing:
- Get a well-woman exam EVERY year.
- Ask for and HPV test (in addition to a Pap test) – not all physicians will automatically do one.
- Have your daughters AND sons vaccinated for HPV as early as possible at (or as soon after) the recommended ages of 11 or 12.
- If you’re under 26 and haven’t been vaccinated yet – do so.
Please make sure you’re taking advantage of these opportunities to keep yourself and/or the women in your life from having to go through what myself, Joey Feek, and many other women have had to!
Cervical cancer is preventable now, and we all have a part to play in eradicating this disease. What will be your next step?
-Cervivor Ambassador Heather Banks