Did you know that September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness month? Helping out and showing your support can be as easy as wearing a Pearl of Wisdom pin. When people comment on how gorgeous the pin is (and they will!), then tell them what it stands for. You can purchase a pin online or take your chances and enter to win one of five over at Bonggamom Finds!
Today I'm honored to have Michelle Whitlock as a guest poster on Finding Bonggamom. Michelle is a cervical cancer survivor who is expecting her first child (via surrogate) in November. I hope Michelle's story inspires women everywhere to learn more about the tools that can prevent cervical cancer.
The nursery is finished and I can hardly contain my excitement as I count the days – just over 50 – until my first child, a daughter named Riley Grier, is due. It’s been a long road for my husband and me.
In December 2001, at age 26, I was busy climbing the corporate ladder and completing my degree, and had just met my husband-to-be. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, I was diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer and my world came to a screeching halt. After having a fertility-sparing procedure, I thought I’d beaten the cancer, but two years later it came back, and I had no choice but to have a radical hysterectomy – along with painful chemotherapy and radiation. I was fortunate to be able to harvest my eggs before my treatment began. And, now, five years later, after multiple attempts, my husband and I are working with a surrogate who is due November 17th with our baby!
This year in the U.S., more than 11,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and more than 4,000 women will die of the disease. No woman, however, should lose her life or her fertility to cervical cancer! It is nearly 100% preventable if every woman knows about and benefits from the tools – the Pap test, the HPV test and the HPV vaccine – now available to protect them.
That’s the message the Pearl of Wisdom™ Campaign to Prevent Cervical Cancer (www.PearlofWisdom.us), which I lead on behalf of the nonprofit, Tamika & Friends (www.tamikaandfriends.org), wants women to get – and share with other women.
Here is what every woman should know:
· Girls and women ages 9-26: Ask your healthcare provider about the HPV vaccine. It protects against the two types of HPV that cause the majority of cervical cancers. Even women who have been vaccinated will still need to be screened.
· Women age 21 or older (or within 3 years of becoming sexually active): Get the Pap test, which detects abnormal cells that can lead to cervical cancer.
· Women age 30 or older: Get the Pap test and the HPV test together as part of routine cervical cancer screening. The HPV test detects the virus that causes cervical cancer, identifying those women at increased risk who will need to be monitored more closely.
The Pearl of Wisdom campaign urges women to take care of themselves by talking to their healthcare provider about screening and vaccination. And spread this message! You can help do this by wearing a Pearl of Wisdom, the global symbol for cervical cancer prevention, and telling other women why you’re wearing it.
To help get the conversation started, we’ve launched the “Wear Your Pearl!” promotion this month during Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month. We want women to wear their Pearl of Wisdom and submit to the campaign a photo of them wearing it (photos can be fun or serious). Photos will be featured on the campaign’s website, and everyone who submits a photo will be eligible to win a cool prize when the promotion ends October 31st. More information is available here.
Our promotion is fun, but our message is serious. I hope you’ll help spread the word about both.
For the Pearl of Wisdom Campaign to Prevent Cervical Cancer