Supporting The Pink While Wearing Teal & White

As cervical cancer survivors, we advocate to bring more awareness to cervical cancer and all gynecologic cancers. Our cancers do not have the same visibility as breast cancer but there was a time when breast cancer was not even talked about, let alone celebrated.

Carol participating in the NFL Crucial Catch Campaign alongside her friend and breast cancer survivor.

Today, breast cancer awareness is everywhere and some people don’t remember a time before all the pink. But I am over 50 and I do remember when the women in my family talked in hushed voices about a friend who had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Those hushed voices are what I still hear today when others talk about cervical, or dare we say vaginal cancer.

But what is most important to remember is that all of these cancers are women’s cancers. They all can take away body parts we feel make us women – breasts, reproductive organs, cervixes, vaginas. Then we are left with redefining what it means to be a woman, what makes us whole again. And this is not easy. Our cancers are devastating. They leave lifelong scars and pain physically and emotionally that sometime never heals. As women, we fight hard every day for equality; to have a seat at the table, to be heard and we should be able to look to each other for support, especially when it comes to our bodies. Today, more than ever, is the time to come together and advocate for women’s health. Every month. Every day.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) and I will do my part to support my friends and loved ones who lives have been forever changed by this disease. These same friends support me now and come January when my social media feeds becomes Cervivor teal & white, they will be there sharing my story and the stories of my Cervivor tribe.

Note: The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends starting yearly mammograms at age 40 for those at average risk of developing breast cancer. If you are at higher risk, ask your healthcare provider what tests are right for you.

Carol Lacey is a 7-year cervical cancer thriver and Cervivor Ambassador. She lives in Northern California where she raised two amazing humans, shares a home with her CervivorMan and their two fur babies. Read her Cervivor story here.


The Fight for Teal and White

Every October, we are reminded to have our annual breast exam and bombarded with pink products, everything from apparel to yogurt cups! Pink is EVERYWHERE in October! Prior to my cervical cancer diagnosis, I was totally on board with pink and had relatively no issue with all the awareness although, I will admit, at times I thought it was too much

Having been diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2016, I changed my perspective on awareness ribbon campaigns and it got me thinking why is pink the only one that everyone recognizes and is on board with? Why is everyone so willing to do the walks, fundraise and wear pink all month long? I mean it wasn’t always this way, was it? This ribbon had to start somewhere and while I was in Iowa attending Cervivor School, I learned some of the history of the pink ribbon and breast cancer awareness. What began the global breast cancer movement with $200 and a shoebox full of women’s names who had or were going through breast cancer turned into a global community of scientists, advocates, neighbors and friends, working together to make breast cancer a distant memory.

I wondered, can this be done with my cancer too? Why are there no big walks, fundraisers or even much awareness of the teal and white ribbon? I mean, I wear my ribbon and frequently I am asked what it represents. Is it because not enough women in this country die from cervical cancer? Surely that can’t be the reason. Or is it because not many women are willing to talk about cervical cancer? Sadly, I believe this is one of the main reasons. You see, cervical cancer has a stigma attached to it as most cases are caused by HPV (Human Papillomavirus), one of the most misunderstood viruses known to man. People do not realize just how common this virus is and how it accounts for many types of cancers as well.

Every October I hear the frustration by many women about the lack of awareness for our cancer and I too am guilty of feeling the same. Then I realized, I never even knew what cervical cancer was until I was diagnosed. How could that be? Well, for one, no one talks about it. If we want more awareness then we need to be willing to talk about cervical cancer and the HPV virus. We need to be out there sharing our stories, advocating for the HPV vaccine, and reminding women to not miss their PAP/HPV tests.

Imagine if all women who were diagnosed decided to share their story with others and kept on sharing and kept talking about cervical cancer and the HPV virus. When women are willing to put themselves out there, we too could grow in numbers and we could be the “Teal and White Brigade.” We have to put feelings of shame aside and not be afraid to talk about our cervix and our cancer. We matter ladies, and our stories need to be told!

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, let’s turn it Teal and White.

Paulette Apostolou resides in Illinois with her loving husband and two Min Pins Roxey and Zoie. She is the owner/designer of and founder of Operation Teal; an awareness ribbon campaign she started in 2016 after attending Cervivor School Louisville.