Response to “My Living Advocacy List” written 1/3/19
I can’t believe another year has passed us by! I can say that 2018 was filled with a ton of opportunities for me and I couldn’t be more thankful for them. This morning, I came across my “Living Advocacy List” blog post from last year and smiled. I decided it was the perfect time to reflect on those goals in hopes of making new ones for this year.
Goal 1: Make the Cervivor Presence Known on Social Media
This was hands down one of the easiest ways to advocate over the course of the year. We had so many campaigns as a community. We were successful because of the social media platforms and the incredible support we received from all of YOU. Thank you SO much! Let’s continue the momentum! Like, share, and comment on our social media posts. Every interaction matters!
Goal 2: Discuss HPV More
I have seen more discussion about HPV over this past year. Maybe it’s because I’m paying attention. Are you? We have several fantastic and credible partners in our discussions on HPV. Twitter chats are a common way to jump in and ask those questions you may want to know. No question is a “dumb” question. Educating yourself is SO important! If you have any questions but don’t want to ask them online, send me a message and I’ll be happy to answer them!
Goal 3: Increase my Community Connections with Knowledge
This has been such a fun way to make connections! I moved to Winterset, Iowa in April of 2017. We all know how scary a new place of residence can be but there is nothing out there quite like Winterset. The town is welcoming and community oriented. I was and am still working as a dental assistant and I’ve been able to get to know hundreds of people through that. I also started attending community chamber coffee “chats” to get to know some other community members.
At one of the chamber coffee chats, I introduced myself to Debra Field who is the committee leader of the Madison County Bras for the Cause chapter. I didn’t know just how important this connection would truly be to me. Since joining the committee, we have built numerous friendships, I’ve been able to help educate women on cervical cancer, and we’ve become a stronger voice in the community together. [Thank you, ladies!]
I have made several professional connections by speaking on survivor panels. These connections have led me to resources and more opportunities through Des Moines University, The American Cancer Society, The Iowa Cancer Consortium, The Iowa Department of Public Health, The University of Iowa, John Stoddard Cancer Center, The Iowa Clinic, Mercy Hospital, and many more! I look forward to continuously build and grow these professional relationships in 2019.
Goal 4: Reach Out to Parents and Children
This is something that I am still working on. I do a lot of my own story telling on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in hopes that it will reach my friends who are parents. I was given the opportunity to complete my undergraduate internship as a social worker through the Madison County Memorial Hospital. I’m thankful for this opportunity because it showed me the need for different resources within our community.
One of my competencies I wanted to accomplish was to bring in more resources and make an A to Z guide for the hospital to reference. One item I brought in was the literature for the HPV vaccination program through the Iowa Department of Public Health. I was hired as an employee back in August and I’m looking forward to working with the hospital to educate and provide the best care for our patients. This literature incorporation was just one small step in educating parents and their children on cancer prevention. I know I have a lot more work to do in 2019. (I have a few ideas).
Goal 5: LOBBY!
This was probably one of, if not the top priority of my advocacy in 2018. I’ve always wanted to lobby in some way. I did choose the social work career after all! Cervivor granted me this opportunity in February of 2018. I traveled to Washington D.C. and lobbied at Capitol Hill (What?!).
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s final screening recommendations did not include HPV co-testing. We knew that this would put even more women at risk so we spoke up. I had my biases going into the process. I felt like I wasn’t going to be heard BUT it ended up being the complete opposite. It was a fantastic way to learn how it all works and see all of the moving parts that are included in Congress’s every day duties. It was amazing to see the number of young professionals starting their careers there too!
We had an incredible group of Cervivors that used their voices that day and we made progress in our efforts. My district Representative, David Young, offered to take the lead on our initiative after listening to our “ask” and a small portion of my story. The final guidelines were released in August which included HPV co-testing! I look forward to more lobbying in the future!
Goal 6: Perfect my Story
I don’t have a lot to say regarding this goal except that I have built my confidence up over the last couple of years due to the support from my friends, family, coworkers, the Cervivor community, and even some complete strangers. I am in a good place in my healing process and I will continue to tell my story to make an impact. You never know who may be listening!
Goal 7: Write More
I wish I would have done more of this over the past year. I started out strong with the help of my friend, Erica Frazier Stum. She started a creative writing group for those of us who were interested. I enjoyed the ones I completed and even bought a new journal for it. I set it on the back-burner due to graduate school and how much writing is incorporated in our assignments. I am making a promise to myself to use writing as self-care in the new year. It is something I enjoy doing and it helps me release emotions (some I don’t even know are there until I put the pen to the paper or my fingers to my keyboard).
Goal 8: Talk About HPV and Cervical Cancer Treatment Side Effects
I think everyone was shocked to hear just how many side effects I was dealing with when I laid it all out on the table this summer. I will not stop talking about these issues because they are what I deal with on a daily basis and they can be prevented! I have experienced some improvements thanks to the help of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. They gave me the diagnoses, education, and proper tools to aid these symptoms.
People don’t realize that cervical cancer isn’t just a bunch of abnormal cells on a Pap test. (In fact, those aren’t always cancerous either). Cervical cancer advances just like any other cancer and cancer alone has physical, emotional, and mental barriers that can take years to heal from.
We still have so much work left to do, stay tuned…