So it's a link a friend sent me today. And while I'm not so much into trying to get people to join causes and I'm not so into sharing personal stuff in detail - I think this is worthwhile, it hits close to home - and I figure one entry won't send anyone running away never to come back.
We've all seen the commercial recently about HPV. There's pull-out ads in all the women's mags now. I'd be surprised if, as a woman in my age range you HADN'T heard about it. But here it is in case you've missed it - it's a virus that causes cervical cancer. Weird, I know. And creepy. More women have it who don't, and of those most aren't properly informed or are completely ignorant - of what it means, if they have it, what they should do. The majority of OBGYNs don't test for it unless specifically asked to. Often getting this test means you pay for it yourself, or call and argue with your insurance company. Good doctors will do that last part for you. And here's the thing - getting tested is no big deal. And finding HPV isn't do or die. Most people's bodies fight it off and it's gone by the next time you go in. But there is a group of women in whom the virus causes complications and/or cervical cancer. And testing for HPV can catch that super early, and therefore cut down the rate of fatality.
Why do I care? What's it to me? I have HPV. And due to a number of factors; compromised immune system, family history, sheer luck - I fall into the category of "likely that HPV will lead to, well, something else." I rated high on the simple scale they use, 1= for barely there, will disappear on its own to 6 = cancer. I'm a three - "early pre-cancerous cells exist." Four and five mean late cancerous cells (stuff gets taken out) and six means serious talks with my husband and doctor.
But I *am* only a three and my doctor is amazing. I go in and get checked every four months, and while that is nerve-wracking and frightening and causes me ridiculous amounts of anxiety - it means if the virus ever does cause cancer we'll know early. We'll know right away. "Fatality" is not in my and my doctor's plan.
The cool news is there has been a vaccine developed. The FDA just approved it. How it will be used exactly, and when, is still being debated. More than likely it will be given to young girls pre-puberty, and those girls will be spared the worry and concern that my husband and I now live with every four months. This is amazing and awesome and something I'm very excited about. But there's still more to be done.
That's where this link comes in. It's where I feel like I need to pass it along. Fatality from this cancer IS preventable. I'm proof of that. But the only way that can happen is if we, as women, are informed and active in our own health care. Talk to your doctors. Talk to your friends. Make and wear a bracelet, and when people ask where you got it, why you wear it - tell them. And even better - For every pair of bracelet kits ordered, Merck will donate one dollar to Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation, up to $100,000, for cervical cancer awareness and screening programs among medically underserved women.
It's simple really. And it can make a miraculous difference in your life, or someone else's. Because seriously - there are cooler ways to die. I plan on finding one.
And PS - Thanks, Em, for spreading the word.
6 years ago