World Cancer Day 2016
February 4th was World Cancer Day. This year Cancer Prevention and Control’s WV Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program (WV BCCSP) Health Information Specialist and cervical cancer advocate, Shelly Dusic, was invited to join public health leaders from around the world as the Every Woman Every Child initiative hosted the event “Towards a Cervical Cancer Free World” at the United Nations (UN) in New York.
This event was a global call to action for providers, advocates, delegates, policy makers, and public health officials to help conquer cervical cancer. There were representatives from all over the world gathered. Highlights included:
- A screening of the short film Lady Ganga. This film follows the story of Michele Baldwin, a woman diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer, who decided to break a world record to bring attention to this preventable disease. The film follows Michele through her journey and we not only see her amazing story, but how her journey has touched and changed the lives of others. You can watch Lady Ganga here https://youtu.be/u5yMCzx0ctU.
- Expert panel discussing how we can eliminate cervical cancer by the year 2030.
Attendees heard from representatives from the Office of the Secretary-General, the Republic of Zambia, and the Union for International Cancer Control. They set the stage by sharing that through early detection, via screening in conjunction with the HPV vaccine, we now have the technology to eliminate cervical cancer by the year 2030.
- Expert panel focusing on the problems of global gender inequality and lack of services available around the world. Contributors included Sage Innovation Cervical Cancer Action Secretariat, the World Health Organization Office at the United Nations, The Vaccine Alliance, International Planned Parenthood Federation Western Hemisphere Region, and Global Health Mobile Optical Detection Technologies (ODT.) Barriers to screening such as lack of health coverage, transportation issues, provider shortage, and stigma were identified. Participants were urged to embrace a cooperative and innovative approach to overcoming these barriers.
- A Call to Action from the United Nations Populations Fund, Permanent Mission of the US to the United Nations, and a cancer advocate speaking on behalf of cancer survivors worldwide. We must conquer the barriers of stigma and access by training providers about the HPV virus and how preventable cervical cancer can be. We need to ensure that every woman has access to screening, regardless of income, race, religion, or geographic location.
Fortunately for West Virginia, Medicaid expansion and the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program go a long way toward reaching our screening goals. Sadly, it is in the area of prevention where we truly lag behind. Cervical cancer kills more women in WV than any other state in the US and it is up to us to create a social demand for protection for the next generation through immunization.
When asked about what she took away from the experience Shelly said, “I was so grateful to be included at this historic gathering. I was able to talk with folks after the event too and I walked out of the UN that night being told by the world leaders in this fight that the world needs more of what we are doing. So often, all we see are the statistics that show WV in a health care crisis. It isn’t very often that we get to see how what we are doing about it compares on a global level. Usually, all I get to tell people that help at our events is thank you, and while I know that my gratitude is appreciated, I often wonder if our partners realize the type of impact they really have. Now I can tell them. Our partners, providers, and volunteers are already doing some of what the United Nations lit the Empire State building for on Feb 4th. We are working together, across the continuum to provide education, access, screening, and prevention. Yes, there are barriers and yes, we have a long way to go, but we are not alone." Together we can defeat cervical cancer in the Mountain State. Moments like this are how miracles happen - when we forget the things that make us different and we push up our sleeves, take our neighbor’s hand and work together toward a common goal.
Listen to Shelly’s story and find our more about cancer from her recent interview with WV Public Broadcasting available at: http://wvpublic.org/post/wva-has-high-rate-cervical-cancer-despite-preventive-vaccines
Community-Oriented Photo Descriptions:
- Pink Ribbon Cutting – Janie’s Walk for Women in Wheeling, WV
- Blue Clinical Photo – “Someone You Love” screening about the the HPV epidemic on the WVU campus during Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Partners present included WVU Cancer Institute’s Cancer Prevention and Control, WV Beast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program, WVU Student Health, Merck Pharmaceuticals, Monongalia County Health Department, WVU Dental School and WVU Greek Life.