The Stigma of Cervical Cancer

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) causes nearly all cases of cervical cancer but why is it taboo to talk about? Because one way to spread it is through sexual contact. Sex icckk. We don’t want to “go there” with our family, especially not our sons and daughters. One argument is that it promotes sexual activity. If you ask my husband, he would probably disagree. We should be in our sexual prime yet I’m left with the damaging effects of scar tissue from countless radiation treatments. Well, if we really wanted to count them, it would be 69 to be exact.

We have a perception of what HPV looks like. It certainly doesn’t look like a boring stay-at-home mom. It most definitely doesn’t include a university professor who at the peak of her career when she was awarded early tenure and gave birth to her son but received the crushing diagnosis of cervical cancer. I can tell you that it includes entrepreneurs, artists, activists, comedians, bankers, realtors, your neighbour, your coworker, and even your friend. We are all good people. No one deserves a cancer diagnosis.

So why the stigma? Why the shame in telling loved ones about the diagnosis? Because you could have prevented it? If you refused the HPV vaccine, I would agree with you whole heartedly. But it’s not like there were warning signs or someone saying, “Look out. Danger ahead!” You didn’t know. It’s not like you willingly took extreme risks with your life. You didn’t teeter on the edge of a cliff to get the perfect #selfie. You weren’t reckless. You didn’t make a mistake. You just had sex.

The game was rigged because you didn’t know the risks. Heck my oncologist says that there is so much we don’t know about the spread of HPV that we can’t rule out kissing. There is so much that we don’t but there are things we know for certain.

  1. We can get regular pap tests. Unfortunately all of my tests missed my cancer. If it wasn’t for the birth of my son, I would not be here today.
  2. We can get vaccinated. Had I been born later or science moved faster, my life trajectory would have been different. Don’t let it be too late for you. 

man-2037255_1280#cervivor #cervicalcancerawareness #cervicalcancerawarenessmonth #cancer #cancermommies #HPV

 

1 thought on “The Stigma of Cervical Cancer”

  1. Thank you for talking about this. We do need to talk about HPV to understand it. We need to know how it could change our life & family’s lives, forever. We need to know how to prevent it and how regular checkups can detect it early, so it is treatable. Thank you Christa. Please keep talking about it.

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