When I first heard of the Moon Shots Program, I was sitting in Dr. (Kathleen) Schmeler's office. She had just learned that the HPV-related cancers had been selected for the program. She was excited. I was excited for her!
HPV affects eight out of 10 people. It affected me in 2004, when I found out that I had the virus that could cause cervical cancers. I hadn't heard of it before then.
I was at my gynecologist's office for my annual exam, and they asked if I'd like to be tested for HPV. I wasn't having any issues, so I wasn't worried about the test.
Then the results came back: positive for strands of the virus linked to cervical cancer. My doctor assured me I was OK, but that we would be doing exams every six months, to keep an eye on things.
Being a busy mom, I let my regular check-ups lapse. When I went in for my exam in 2009, they found cancer on my cervix. It was at stage IIIA. I underwent six weeks of radiation along with chemotherapy and two weekends of internal radiation. After several months of recovery, it appeared that the cancer was gone.
Just a year later, the cancer was back. I am thankful to still be here.
Now that I realize how important the Moon Shots Program is to getting the word out about HPV, I am very hopeful the program will help bring awareness of HPV and the HPV vaccine. I hope it becomes a routine vaccination that we give all our children. The HPV-related Cancers Moon Shot can help find a way to eradicate cancers that affect so many.
What's your moon shot? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us why MD Anderson's Moon Shots Program is important to you.