Hello my name's Navita Gunter. I'm a nine year cervical cancer survivor and the founder of the Cervical Cancer Coalition of Tennessee. When I first started my journey, I had no idea where it would take me. Cancer was my enemy, and I knew I felt I could defeat it.
Cervical cancer grows from the HPV Virus and a woman can be infect for years and not know the virus is inside her body. It's only with a PAP Test that a women can be found tohave cervical cancer. Now more about HPV which is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Human papillomavirus is the name of a group of viruses that includes more than 100 different strains or types. More than 30 of these viruses are sexually transmitted, and they can infect the genital area of men and women including the skin of the penis, vulva (area outside the vagina), or anus, and the linings of the vagina, cervix, or rectum.
Getting back to my story I had in fact enough going on in my life as a single mother working not one but two jobs! Also, I was dealing with other illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure that were just as life changing as the cancer. I wasn't warned about the psychological and physical impact of cancer. Every unknown pain made me fear the return of this deadly disease.
After enduring the battle, I felt other women needed support from someone who knew what they would encounter if they became diagnosed with cervical cancer. I knew something had to be done. Starting a coalition wasn't one of my goals, but I organized the first ever cervical cancer coalition in Tennessee. My aim was to try and raise awareness about this type of cancer. Here are some major events which I achieved.
My determination took me to Washington D.C. to participate in a government group(Women in Government against cervical cancer) that formed to bring awareness and information to the nation about cervical cancer. Women's lives would be saved! I wouldn't have imagined that I would become a member of this cancer task force. Tennessee's Governor, Phil Bredenson created this task force to find ways to defeat cervical cancer in the state of Tennessee.
Soon after, the Lance Armstrong Foundation interviewed me to share my survival story. I wanted other women and their families to hear my story and gain some hope. They had to know that they could prevail when fighting cancer. This short documentary was published on the foundation's website and also on youtube.
Later, I partnered with the Witness Project of Davidson County to help educate the women of Davidson about breast and cervical cancer. This organization reached over 300 Davidson County families by giving programs in church's and civic center's and even at the work place.
Now, I write about cancer and living with hope to reach many people. Regardless of your race, economic status or education, cancer can invade a person's life. Someone's mother, daughter, sister or friend is experiencing this as I write this article. I want that number to drop and enable women to just focus on being healthy.
Cancer became a priority health concern for me, but I never let it overtake my life or defeat my faith. Today, I'm thriving not simply surviving. With my shield of faith and knowledge, I'm ready to help many women to fight to battle of cervical cancer.
There's a HPV vaccine that was created by Gardasil, the first vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer, abnormal and precancerous cervical lesions, abnormal and precancerous vaginal and vulvar lesions and genital warts. Gardasil is a recombinant vaccine and is effective against HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18, and is approved for use in females ages 9-26 years. With this shot, females in the future won't have to endure the radiation, surgery and other means to remove the cancer. It may also open the door to other treatments against other forms of cancer.
Then, one day another woman can say, "Hello my name is Sally. I've never had cervical cancer."
Navita Gunter can be reached for speaking engagements through the Cervical Cancer Coalition of Tennessee phone: 615-485-5069. The coalition is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
To donate to the Cervical Cancer Coalition of Tennessee, visit The Community Foundation www.givingmatters.com . Also, you may mail your contribution to:
Cervical Cancer Coalition of Tennessee
P.O. BOX 282157
Nashville, TN 37228