As the new Communications Assistant with the Gynecologic Cancer Initiative (GCI), I hope to create meaningful dialogue with researchers, stakeholders, and people whose lives have been affected by gynecologic cancers.
Before starting with the GCI, I did not know a lot about gynecologic cancers. I knew that I needed to use condoms when engaging in penetrative sex to reduce the chance of STD transmission, which can lead to cancer. And to regularly have Pap smears to screen for said cancers.
My first task with GCI was to familiarize myself with their mission and gynecologic cancers, and I was in for a rude awakening. I learnt: (FACT CHECK and source)
- There are several, five to be exact, types of gynecologic cancers, a shock when I thought there were only two.
- Rates of cervical cancer, previously the most common cancer, have decreased since the vaccines’ introduction. I vaguely remember being in grade six and lining up with all the other girls in my class to get the vaccine. At that time, I had no idea the vaccine would help prevent cervical cancer.
- It is impossible to screen for ovarian cancer, leading to high fatality rates as detection occurs in the late stages.
I was outraged when I read this. Why is there so little information on gynecologic cancers? Why are we as a society not talking about it? How come this is not talked about in sex ed?
These questions brought forward by my new-found knowledge, solidified my purpose and role within GCI. My educational background consists of a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Economics, which has shaped my belief that open dialogue and communication can lead to systemic change in ideologies and society. This belief has influenced my career path, having interned and volunteered at various non-profits in their communications departments to help amplify their initiatives and mission.
I hope to help GCI and their researchers advocate and educate the broader public, especially women, about gynecologic cancers. If these cancers are going undetected because the symptoms are hard to detect, then we need to help arm women with the knowledge to recognize the signs of gynecological cancers. If there are no current ways to screen or prevent a cancer, we need to create social awareness to fund these initiatives looking for answers. All of this can be accomplished with communication.
I am looking forward to meeting with researchers, stakeholders, and women affected by gynecological cancers to share their stories. If you would like to have a conversation or share your thoughts, please do not hesitate to reach out via our social media or email.