Last night, I attended an event in Washington, DC put on by Cervivor, a cervical cancer awareness, support and fundraising organization that a friend, a cervical cancer survivor, founded over a decade ago. I was one of the original founding Board members of the organization’s predecessor Tamika and Friends and she gave me an award for getting the 501c3 federal tax-exempt status for the organization.
But to me, that was a minor role given what Tamika has built, a nurturing and supportive organization that has actually saved lives. We heard the stories from “cervivors”, doctors, a current cervical cancer patient and the mother of a young woman who succumbed to the disease at age 22. I literally cried through the “Stirrup Stories” about this not-often-talked about form of cancer, which has a lot of stigma and shame associated with it.
The young woman I sat next to literally broke down into tears because she said that each element of those women’s stories were relateable to her and she thought that she was the only one dealing with those things and it was reaffirming to hear, finally, that she was not alone. She has Stage 3 Cervical Cancer.
I promise to do more to raise awareness, starting with this video message to my readers and Bellyitch Blog followers. Some of the victims and survivors are moms. Many of the women we heard about last night lost their fertility after their diagnosis, and the founder herself was upset for a while after learning at age 25 that she would never ever be able to give birth to her own child. Now she is happily married with a stepdaughter.
Here is my summation of last night’s events and plea to readers and parents of kids who will need to be vaccinated between the ages of 11 to 13 to prevent more women from dying from this very preventable form of cancer.