FACT- 90,000 women are diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer EACH YEAR. Why aren’t we talking about it more?

FACT- 90,000 women are diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer EACH YEAR. Why aren’t we talking about it more?

We are finally on Instagram! Please follow us @TamikaAndFriends. Please help us get the word out sharing our IG account with a friend! :)  

We are finally on Instagram! Please follow us @TamikaAndFriends. Please help us get the word out sharing our IG account with a friend! :)  

HPV- the virus that leads to cervical cancer often lies dormant for years. 

HPV- the virus that leads to cervical cancer often lies dormant for years. 

Don’t let someone you love suffer in silence. Raise awareness about all gynecologic cancers by talking about it! 

Don’t let someone you love suffer in silence. Raise awareness about all gynecologic cancers by talking about it! 

Worldwide, cervical cancer is the 2nd largest cause of death for women. This shouldn’t be the case. We need to raise awareness! -please share- 

Worldwide, cervical cancer is the 2nd largest cause of death for women. This shouldn’t be the case. We need to raise awareness! -please share- 

September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month (GCAM)- Did you know the 5 Gynecologic cancers are Cervical, Ovarian, Uterine, Vaginal, and Vulvar? 

September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month (GCAM)- Did you know the 5 Gynecologic cancers are Cervical, Ovarian, Uterine, Vaginal, and Vulvar? 

HPV is a virus. Stigma is a deadly disease. Let’s talk about it!

HPV is a virus. Stigma is a deadly disease. Let’s talk about it!

Latinas have highest incidence of cervical cancer; groups work to provide information and care

According to the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Latinas are less likely than other groups to have access to employer sponsored health coverage or private plans. Sixty-six percent of immigrant women don’t have access to employer sponsored coverage.

The situation is even worse for Latinas in Texas whose rates are 19 percent higher than the national average and 11 percent higher than the national average for Latinas. Women living in counties on the U.S. Mexico border are 31 percent more likely to die of cervical cancer compared to women in non-border counties.

Joslyn’s Story

Life was just starting out for me. At the age of eighteen I just enrolled in my first college class and began packing to move into a dorm at a local university. I was so excited to venture out on my own that it never dawned on me that my life would change with a simple phone call from my doctor’s office. Two weeks before I moved into the dorm I went to get my first Pap smear. A week later the doctor called that my test results came back abnormal and I need to be seen for a follow-up. My doctor began explaining that I had HPV and that due to my young age the recommendation was to wait for the HPV to clear up on its own. I was asked to come back every six months for follow-up appointments. However, after a year of abnormal test results I learned that I had a strain of HPV that caused cervical cancer. I underwent multiple procedures to remove the cells over the course of two years. I went on with life, graduating from college, and working and in the middle of it all meeting the love of my life. About a month before my wedding, I learned that the HPV had developed into cervical cancer. With my husband and family’s love and support, I underwent additional treatments to remove the cancer cells. I thought it was all behind me, until after celebrating our one-year anniversary we began thinking about starting a family. After trying for two years, we went to seek professional assistance. My OBGYN told me that conceiving would be difficult due to the scar tissue that surrounded my cervix, and if I were able to conceive my cervix would be compromised due to the multiple surgeries I have had which have shortened my cervix. The news was devastating. I cried for days wondering if we would every have a child. I thought that HPV and cervical cancer were behind me, but instead it reappeared itself, haunting me from its grave. I poured myself into researching every alternative, seeking medication, herbal remedies, and lifestyle changes to help improve my chances of conceiving. After another two years and one miscarriage, we decided to seek assistance from an infertility clinic. We met with our doctor and developed a plan for the next month. I waited patiently, but before I could start the treatment, my husband and I discovered we were pregnant with a precious baby girl. We were overjoyed with the news. Twenty-eight weeks into my pregnancy my perinatologist informed me that my cervix was shrinking at an alarming rate and I needed to get a cerclage and be placed on bed rest until delivery. I was scared that after all these years of trying, hoping, and praying we could loose our miracle. The last four months have been a rollercoaster ride, going to weekly ultrasounds and praying that our baby would be safe, but I am thrilled to say we are now at thirty-eight weeks and counting the days until her arrival.

Cervical Cancer Survivor @MLWhitlock shares her journey from patient to survivor to advocate.

A strong message about the value of co-testing By @MicheleAPrigo

For the past five years Tamika & Friends has hosted the Walk to Beat the Clock 5K event in Washington, DC. This event promotes awareness of HPV and its cause of cervical cancer, and creates a community for women and their loved ones looking for emotional and financial support.

When Tamika asked me to speak at the event this year I was honored. I am not a cancer survivor. In fact, I am not even a cancer thriver. But I am someone who carries a strong message about the value of co-testing (Pap + HPV DNA test).

My goal in participating in the 5K was to make sure that no woman should be in the position, both literally and figuratively, of total surprise during a cervical cancer screening when they prop themselves up on their elbows, forgetting the speculum is still inside them, ouch!, and exclaim with disbelief, “Nearly my entire cervix is taken over by an STD that can give me cancer?! How could this be? I feel fine. I’ve followed Pap screening guidelines religiously. I’ve never even had a bad Pap.”

It is said that good fortune is the combination of luck and preparation, and when it comes to cervical cancer prevention, this couldn’t be more true. Speaking at the Walk to Beat the Clock 5K gave me the chance to educate women about co-testing and to prepare them with the right tools to prevent cervical cancer, because women’s health is too important to rely on luck alone.

For me, it was just random luck that I tried a new doctor, who happened to teach me the value of the right screening tools; co-testing. My Pap came back normal, but the HPV DNA test showed I was positive for high risk strains, which led to more frequent screenings. If my doctor hadn’t done co-testing, and had just based my care off the normal Pap results, then the disease that my unchecked HPV was cooking up could’ve boiled over into advanced cancer before my next screening! Luckily, the results of the HPV DNA test led to more frequent follow-ups and a few months later, when the HPV started to stir up, and my Pap came back Low Grade ASCUS, I had colposcopy and a biopsy which revealed CIN III. I believe the HPV DNA test saved my life and prevented me from having advanced cervical cancer. Prevention starts with being prepared with the right tools; co-testing.

Yet sadly, for so many, my good fortune is not the norm and this is what made my participation in the Walk to the Beat the Clock 5K such an enormous moment for me. Because as Tamika said, “Cancer is scary. But prevention can be so easy.”

Check out Michele speaking at the 2012 DC Walk to Beath the Clock: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hqhTDBvAlTg

Follow Michele on Twitter/@MicheleAPrigo

Thanks, Michele for all you do. We are honored to call you our friend.