You Can & You Will: A Cervical Cancer Awareness Campaign Launch

6 months and 4 days without no update. Yes, I apologize for being a little too preoccupied these past few days (months, yes). I really wanted to write but I was suffering from writer’s block (even the stories that are WIP were all at a standstill) and I now only have the chance to write about something special.

This May is the month for Cervical Cancer Awareness and last Monday, May 23, 2016, was truly an eye-opening event for me. I had the chance to be a part of GlaxoSmithKline’s event (yes, “part” like literally “part of the event” thinking of the entire concept and how the event would also flow smoothly), You Can & You Will: A Cervical Cancer Awareness Launch held at Fairmont Makati’s Ballroom 1. Yes, I did say eye-opening event simply because listening and watching the event with my very own eyes left a huge impact on me and my body’s health. Researching about the guests’ background (Andi Manzano and her big C survivor mother Rose Manzano and Abbygale Arenas-de Leon), their experiences or initiatives against Cervical Cancer was nothing compared to hearing and watching survivors of the big C right in front of your very eyes. Doctors from different organizations also joined as they gave keynotes and a lot of advice on how to be protected at all costs.

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You see, each and everyone of us have dreams. Be it having our very own car, your own condo/house, to have a special someone, even just by graduating school/university. These are dreams that only you can fulfill. But what we don’t know is that these dreams can be easily taken away from us by Cervical Cancer. It’s a silent killer and even kills at least 7 Filipina women EVERYDAY. Imagine if that was you.

Cervical Cancer is caused by Human Papilloma Virus or HPV and it develops in the cervix. In its early stage, it may even have no sign or symptom. What’s even more alarming is that up to 80% of women can be infected with HPV at some point in their lives. It can be easily transmitted through skin-to-skin genital contact.

The following are the reasons that can increase your risk of Cervical Cancer:

  • if you had sexual intercourse at a young age
  • if you have given birth multiple times
  • if you have/had sexually transmitted diseases
  • if you have HIV or immunocompromised
  • if you smoke
  • if you used oral contraceptives for 5 years or longer
  • if you rarely/don’t go for regular PAP smears

Now, you may ask, if I haven’t had sexual intercourse, would I still have it? The answer is no. But once you become sexually active, or had your first intercourse, you are susceptible to this disease. How can you prevent yourself from being harmed? Simple, by undergoing regular PAP smears and taking vaccines. The only way that you can truly be protected is by visiting your doctor and following his/her advice (which is usually to go for a PAP smear and vaccination).

These facts are all alarming not just for my age but to every woman out there. Hearing the doctors mention these facts won’t still make you that much alarmed since we all know that it is human nature to not care about anything unless you are the one being victimized by these kinds of things. Life is art itself, and that is the main reason why a calligraphy artist, Alexis Ventura of InkScribbler gave us a pretty view of her calligraphy art but with a twist: spilling her own little glass of water in her artwork. (We were all scared backstage that she wouldn’t be able to pull it off but she did! And we are hella proud of her for doing it smoothly, albeit a little clumsy — but that’s what we’re actually aiming for, that sudden jolt of shock, panic and regret.) The audience all gasped (including me — my colleagues even laughed at me saying that we were all planning that but I still got carried away lol) and it just hit you right there, Cervical Cancer is like that. One moment, everything is going smoothly, next you have a destroyed art in front of you.

I guess what I can say is that, seeing the art being destroyed is like a wake-up call. Luckily, a speed painter, Pilipinas Got Talent’s Odette Cagandahan, easily swept away the audience’s attention and drew a very beautiful outline of a woman, reminding each one of us that we can & we will. It wouldn’t really have stuck to your head though unless you hear the campaign’s song: I Can, which was sung by Patty Austria, a member of the GSK family.

But what I can assure you though, is that everyone felt really empowered the entire duration of the event. It gave each and everyone at least a little hint of that feeling, so make sure, to those who attended, that you will never feel the same way again.

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