300,000 women die of cervical cancer every year. Congress can help stop it

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The petition below comes from Ana Reyes, a cervical cancer survivor and volunteer with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

I was diagnosed with Stage 2 cervical cancer in December of 2015, when I was 36 years old.  At the time I was a single mother to two young children, ages 6 and 8.  To combat my diagnosis, I had multiple surgeries, 6 rounds of chemo, 28 rounds of external radiation and 3 rounds of internal radiation. I had a radical hysterectomy and the option of having more children taken away from me. I had to take a leave of absence from my job for a full year and move back in with my parents. I live with daily side effects, both physical and mental from my cervical cancer treatments. 

But I still consider myself lucky.  There is the obvious reason to consider myself lucky … I continue to be alive.  But there are other reasons as well.

I am lucky because my cancer was caught at Stage 2, still relatively early.  Often, cervical cancer is caught and treated even earlier than Stage 2. This is due to cancer screenings that are widely available in the U.S. and even covered by health insurance. This isn’t true everywhere in the world. In many parts of the world, cervical cancer often isn’t diagnosed until it’s too late.

This doesn’t sit right with me. We have the tools to make my generation the last to ever have to battle cervical cancer. Yet more women are dying from this disease every year. Last year, 312,000 women died from cervical cancer worldwide. Without action, that will increase by 2040 to a staggering 459,000 women projected to die from a disease that is actually preventable. And this shouldn’t sit right with you, either, especially if you have a mother, a sister, a daughter, a wife or a girlfriend.

That’s why I’m asking for your signature today to urge your U.S. Senators to support dedicated funding in this year’s global health budget to help eliminate deaths from cervical cancer worldwide.

Cervical cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. But regular screenings and early treatment have changed that. Today, approximately 90% of cervical cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries because the women in these countries don’t have access to these services.

This is completely unacceptable. It is our responsibility to take what we know about prevention, screening and treatment to help save the lives of women in other countries.

I am lucky because my children will likely never have to face this disease. They have both received the HPV vaccination, which prevents cervical cancer as well as six other types of cancer.  This vaccine was easy for me to get for my children and was fully covered by my insurance.

All children everywhere in the world should have this same opportunity. Even though the World Health Organization cites the HPV vaccine as one of the most cost-effective cancer prevention methods out there, most girls living in low- or middle-income countries don’t have access to the vaccine.

I got cervical cancer. But I am lucky that I got cervical cancer in the U.S. and that I had health insurance to cover the costs. I am lucky that because of where I live my cervical cancer was found at an early stage. I am lucky that my children have access to the HPV vaccine so that they will never have to fight the cancer I did. With vaccination, screening and treatment, virtually ALL death from cervical cancer worldwide can be eliminated.  

Cervical cancer shouldn’t be a death sentence in any country. Please stand with me in urging members of the U.S. Senate to support dedicated funding in this year’s global health budget, and take a bold step toward eliminating cervical cancer once and for all.