I was talking to my mom last night and she told me about something one of her co-workers said to her that really upset her. After she told me what the co-worker said it upset me as well. But, unfortunately did not surprise me. The woman had asked what type of cancer I had. My mom responded 3b Cervical. The womans response: "Oh well we know why she got that"
Wow, what a response. Cervical Cancer is the second leading cancer killer of women! Cervical Cancer's treatments are horrible, most often worse than breast cancer treatments (although those are extremely horrible as well). When you are treated for cervical cancer Chemotherapy is the easiest part of the treatment. External radiation fries your ovaries, cervix, uterus, colon, bladder, intestines etc...if you get out of those treatments without having a colposcapy bag you are very lucky. Cervical Cancer treatments also include internal radiation. For some this is worse than others. some of these treatments require temporarily paralyzing the person from the waste down, leaving radioactive rods inside them. Others must be put under general anesthesia for many hours while having radio active seeds inside them. Then there are the surgeries, hysterectomies etc...
The side effects of all of these are horrible. Never able to have children, menopause, blisters on your privates, inability to digest food without extreme pain, horribly painful urination, infections, the list goes on and on. My point is that Cervical Cancer is not what people say it is. It is not a punishment for those who are "sluts". I WAS NOT A SLUT. I did not make bad decisions. And, even if I did this is not something I deserved.
If we are lucky enough to survive us Cervical Cancer Fighters are now left to be ashamed. When people ask, what kind of cancer did you have we cringe knowing that when we answer we will not be greeted with sympathy and support but with judgment and disdain! I find myself defending the cancer I had on a daily basis. People are completely uneducated about cervical cancer and we survivors pay the price.
I want to reach out to other survivors and tell them they are not alone. I want them to be able to come to my blog and see that their secret inner fears, anxieties etc...are not strange or wrong. That there are so many others like them and my blog is a place for those people to connect. I also want to reach out to supporters and caregivers and provide them a place to learn more about what their loved one is going through.
As a 3b Cervical Cancer survivor diagnosed in my 20's I felt utterly alone. No one talks about cervical cancer. And, very few people talk about young cancer survivors. It scares those who it hasn't happened to. Once I started my blog I met countless people who have battled HPV and cervical cancer. I have received so many emails from woman saying they had been afraid of talking about their battle because of the negative stigma that is attached. Cervical Cancer is the #2 Cancer Killer of women behind Breast. We as woman need to stand behind each other. We need to remove the negative stigma that comes with cervical cancer. I am a highly educated (law school grad in two weeks) middle class woman. This happened to me and I am not ashamed. The World Health Organization states that every many and woman will contract HPV at one point in their lives. You do not need to even have sex to contract HPV. HPV is now also being found in peoples mouths.
Woman are a powerful group. Please help me take away the shame that is connected with Cervical Cancer. It is difficult enough to battle cancer to then have to be ashamed, not acceptable!
Oh and if you haven't yet voted for my blog please do! If I could win it would help bring awareness to Cervical Cancer :)