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If you’ve been diagnosed with cervical cancer, hearing that you have or have had a cancer that can be prevented can be difficult. I and Jo’s truly understand how this could be the case especially during campaign weeks such as Cervical Cancer Prevention Week when our messaging around prevention gets much louder. So I wanted to take the time ahead of next week to explain why the week is so important.
At Jo’s, we do talk about making cervical cancer a disease of the past. It’s our vision and like many of our supporters we hope you share it. With a combination of innovation, technology, hard work and investment, we know we can get there some day. However, right now, not every case of cervical cancer can be prevented. Many more women will sadly be diagnosed with cervical cancer over the coming years and of course this includes those who were up to date with their cervical screening.
Cervical screening prevents thousands of diagnoses and saves lives every year, but only stops around 75% of cases, not 100% as many believe. There are lots of reasons for this including there being some types of cervical cancer which can’t be detected through screening. Similarly the HPV vaccine is an incredible innovation which has been proven to significantly reduce the number of people who are diagnosed with cervical cell changes, yet again it is not 100% effective. Further, it was introduced in just 2008 so only young women will have benefitted from the protection it offers.
Through our services and other interactions at Jo’s, we constantly see the devastation that cervical cancer causes. This means we want every woman affected by it to be supported and get the information they need at every step. We also want the treatment and care they receive to be the very best it possibly can and are working hard to see this improved throughout our work. However, ultimately we want to stop as many women as possible having to face the devastation that cervical cancer can bring.
This is why Cervical Cancer Prevention Week is so important. We work really hard to create as much noise as we can to get potentially life-saving messages out to as many people as possible. We know that it works too, every year we hear from GPs and laboratories who see huge surges in screening samples coming in.
It’s also vitally important to talk about cervical cancer prevention in a sensitive way. Blaming, shaming and pointing the finger isn’t helpful, fair or right. We want to support people to make informed decisions about their health while recognising it isn’t always easy.
In order to reach large groups of people, our messaging often needs to be bold, concise and sometimes eye catching in order to be seen above a sea of messages that go out to the public every day from all manner of companies, products and charities. If, through our campaigns we can prevent even some women from being diagnosed then this can only be a good thing and is why we will continue to raise the profile of ways to reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
Please don’t forget we’re here for you whatever your experience of cervical cancer is. Whether it happened yesterday or 30 years ago, to you or a friend or loved one. We have an amazing community on our Forum who might be going through exactly the same thing and other services which can give you answers or a supportive ear.
So if you find yourself feeling affected by any of our prevention messaging, I hope this blog will help you understand the motivations behind them. If social media conversations get too much, take time out. Talk to us, talk to friends and family who understand. Of course it would be amazing if you feel able to get involved! To help us make noise, dispel myths and stigma and share the facts so that more people are able to reduce their risk of cervical cancer and more lives are saved.