We all know that October is breast cancer awareness month. Did you know that September is gynecological cancer awareness month?
Yeah, it’s a mouthful, but the fact is, gynecological cancer goes beyond the things we normally hear about. It’s more than your cervix and your ovaries. Though those have their own months as well. January is cervical cancer screening month, May is National Women’s Checkup Day, and of course, September is also ovarian cancer month. There are plenty of “awareness” opportunities!
Gynecological cancers include cervical, uterine/endometrial, ovarian, vaginal and vulvar. Though there are screening tests for cervical cancers, the rest are… well… hit and miss and depend greatly on a woman’s doctor. Sadly, many women don’t have access to adequate healthcare and early warning signs may be missed. Worse still is the plight of the female-bodied trans community. A transman who still has female parts may face outright discrimination from the medical community and not receive even the bare basics of preventive care.
Most of this was news to me when, just over a year ago, a friend was diagnosed with cervical cancer. At a loss for what to do for her, our friends and family gathered ‘round and did what we do best – we offered support in the form of friendship and love. We wanted to make her laugh, so we took a trip to the American Visionary Arts Museum, a guaranteed mood booster if there ever was one! Inside the doors, we were greeted by a gigantic ball of bras.
The jokes started. “Hey! What if we did something like this for cervical cancer, except, I dunno… panties!” “Yeah, that’d be cute, a big panty ball.” “Wait, they’d have to be clean, right?” “Ewww! I don’t wanna think about that!” “What about a rope, or… or a chain, instead of a ball? Y’know, kinda hip to hip?”
The ideas flew fast and furious, some silly, some serious, but they all accomplished their goal. Our friend laughed. She forgot, for the moment, the stresses of her life and enjoyed the warmth of good friends. The idea was shared around a little, and after a nervous giggle, people liked it. But it didn’t really go anywhere.
Instead, the idea sat, simmering for nearly a year. It sat, not gathering dust, but brewing, coming to maturity, slowly ripening into something that wasn’t a joke. It turned into a passion.
“I really should do something with this idea.” “It’s crazy, no one will go for it.” “It’s too good to ignore, too right!” “You’re nuts, this is silly. It’s over the top. It’s too much.” “This could be huge. People could really get behind this!”
And so the argument raged until one night I was cornered. One person asked me if we were going to do anything with that crazy plan. I shrugged, it’s still brewing. The next week it was someone else. Then yet another person. Finally, I decided it was time to do something.
When the time is right, things just… well, they just seem to happen. All of a sudden, people were interested. All of a sudden, that passion overflowed and transformed into action.
And now, it begins…
We’re running a year-long campaign to raise funds and awareness for gynecological cancer. All funds will go to the Foundation for Women’s Cancer. Oh, and the panty thing? Yeah, we’re doing that too. The American Visionary Arts Museum likes the idea, and so do we! So yep, we’re also collecting panties (clean, please) to create a massive chain of panties that will be strung hip-to-hip – we couldn’t pass up the symbolic image of women standing together, united for their sisters.
You’ll be seeing more on this in the upcoming days and weeks. I’m excited, and I hope you are too.
Want to know more?
Check out Unmentionables 4 Awareness or drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.