January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month (#CCAM). While we at Cervivor are educating and advocating 365 days a year, January presents us a unique opportunity to plug into the visibility of the month. Or frankly, to be proactive in givingthe month visibility and ensuring that activities are happening in our communities! What are things you can do? Here are a few suggestions to kick off your planning for January:
Host a cervical cancer survivor meet-up in your local area or speak with your local OB/GYN or cancer clinic about hosting a gynecologic cancer/cervical cancer support group.
Encourage New Year’s resolutions to keep up with annual women’s health exams, Pap testing and HPV testing. Encourage mom of teens and tweens to get their children the HPV vaccine.
Schedule speaking opportunities by checking online for upcoming health fairs at local community centers or places of worship. Contact local women’s groups. Arrange to have a table to share information about cervical cancer prevention.
Plan a fundraiser, awareness walk or “PAP Rally.” Start a treadmill challenge or steps counting challenge in January to encourage women to think about their health in 2020.
Plan a Wear Teal & White Tuesday among your office or community to promote cervical cancer awareness and prevention.
Spread the word on social media via your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or your blog. Re-tweet, like and share others’ posts throughout the month to amplify their messages too. Our friends at the American Sexual Health Association have some posters and pre-written social media posts that are easy to share. Coming soon: our own customized Cervivor #CCAM social media toolkit.
Cervivor’s 12th patient advocacy training event in Chicago was one for the books! We had some of the most inspiring and informative speakers during our 2-day event, along with memory-making fun.
We kicked it off with our Welcome Reception that featured comedian and cervical cancer survivor Lisa Gopman. This wonder women powerhouse made her below-the-belt cancer funny and oh-so relatable, especially to a crowd of Cervivors! Lisa was so inspired by our program and the women she met that she stayed with us for the entire weekend.
Day one was our Wellness Day where Tamika and Lead Advocacy Educator Heather Banks share the importance of growing Cervivor’s footprint and the power of our stories. Honing in on those important messages, we heard from Cervivor Ambassador’s Emily Hoffman and Morgan Newmann on how they found their collective Cervivor voice. In between our sessions, we practiced mindful awareness, restful restoration and reclaimed our Yin energy with Lauren Mansell.
Cervivor Ambassador’s Paulette Apostolou and Carol Lacey presented an interactive session, Healing Through Writing, started by our very own Erica Frasier Stum. We had a another impactful session with Dr. Amy Siston on living through the emotional trauma that is cancer. And for the second year, we heard from the dynamic Roshanda Pratt who talked about knowing our why and how that can propel us in the work we do as Cervivors.
“I’m forever impacted by Cervivor School. I knew it would be inspiring and educational, but I did not expect it to be life changing in terms of how my story goes. I feel braver, stronger and more confident with my story then I ever have been before. I’m no longer leaving it buried like it has been for the last 6 years. Speaking about it in a way that can help educate others makes me feel powerful over cancer. It doesn’t scare me anymore!” – Cervivor Amy Dent, Australia, Diagnosis: stage 1b1 cervical cancer
We ended the evening with dinner together and our Pajama Jam, where Dr. Siston lead us through a discussion on our bodies after cancer and how that can effect our sexual health. Girl talk after cancer looks and feels different and there is something safe and sacred about being in a room with women who truly ‘get it’.
Day two is our Medical Day where we get the latest and greatest on HPV, the HPV vaccine and cervical cancer screening. Dr. Sherrie Wellington started the day talking about cervical cancer disparities and thinking beyond our own communities. Cervical cancer is global issue, and even in our own communities there are so many who do not have access to proper screening or are uninformed about the HPV vaccine. Dr. Wellington used the term, “knowledge gap” and how we as patient advocates can fill that much needed knowledge gap.
Dr. Nita Lee, who was instrumental in helping with this year’s speaker lineup, talked about HPV and it’s connection to cervical cancer. Dr. Lee and Paulette also talked about how Cervivors’ and their oncology team can make the best partnership when it comes to reaching more women in one’s own community. We also heard from Dr. Andrea Loberg and Dr. Marielle Fricchione on cervical cancer screening guidelines and vaccination as presentation.
Jennifer Sienko with the American Cancer Society & the HPV Roundtable joined us again this year to talk about being armed and compassionate advocates when it comes to talking about HPV facts. We also heard from Cervivor Ambassador’s Maria Franklin and Tina Vetreno who talked about contributing to Cervivor’s footprint and the importance that the tile ‘Cervivor Ambassador’ holds.
We closed out the weekend with Tamika presenting the 2019 Cervivor Champion Award to one of our Leadership team members, Maria Franklin. A much deserved accolade to a woman who tirelessly works in and outside our Latinx community, educating and guiding, as well as managing our Cervivor Espanol site. Congratulations Maria!
Our newest Cervivor School graduates hold the promise of making their survivorship count by using their newfound Cervivor knowledge to educate their communities and beyond. As Maria so passionately said, “Every single one of us has to do our part. Ending cervical cancer is our job.”
“Cervivor school showed me what I really have to offer as an ambassador and how to come out of my shell. I left knowing that I was not alone. I learned way more about myself and what I can offer. I felt like I now I am part of something that is going to be a part of changing lives. Cancer will not stop me and that I will be a voice to educate others. I am a fighter and Cervivor School showed me no one is alone. It was the best time and the best learning experience I have had. It definitely changed my life.” – Cervivor Tracy Jimenez, Colorado, Diagnosis: Stage 2b
Team Cervivor wishes all our new and returning Ambassador’s much success and wellness as you move through your journey with Cervivor.