HPV – H – A to Z Challenge

I have wanted to write this post for a long time. I, always find something else that I can write about. But today, I will write about HPV.

HPV is short for Human Papilloma Virus, there are many different types of HPV, and some of them are cancerous.

My mother passed away two years ago. She died of cancer. She had a very rare cancer that been caused by HPV and that was very aggressive. It was her last wish that we would educate women and girls but also men and boys on the topic of HPV.

HPV is sexually transmittable and condoms do not represent a sufficient form of protection. This is the reason why it is important that women and girls once they have been sexually active in their lives go an have a PAP-smear at least once a year.

The most efficient protection against HPV is vaccination. In most countries, only girls are vaccinated, but in some places, parents are lucky they don’t have to lobby their doctors in order to protect their sons and their future partner(s) from HPV and cancers caused by HPV.

Even though women are most likely touched by HPV cancers there are some rare cancers caused by HPV that touch men, such as mouth and throat cancers or penile cancers.

Now, I know many people put forward the argument that their daughters will be more promiscuous or sexually active at a too young age if they receive an HPV-vaccination. But take a step back, vaccinating a girl when she is about 10 will protect her later in life, it is not so that she is sexually active before reaching the age of consent. Maybe she will only have one partner during her life, who will unknowingly infect her with HPV, or maybe she will have more than one without being promiscuous, maybe she will divorce, maybe she will be widowed and will have a new partner later on. If you really want to protect your daughter it won’t be through not vaccinating her.

I want to transmit my mom’s message. Vaccinate your daughters and if possible your sons. Get yourself checked regularly. Make sure your partner, wife, mother, sister, daughter, cousin get checked regularly! Sadly a good diet, regular exercise, no smoking, no alcohol won’t keep cancers caused by HPV at bay.

In order to support my mother’s last wish. We created the Nicola Werner Association. Every year a research award is given to young researchers in the areas of virology, immunology and prevention of cancerous diseases.

In order to raise funds for this award, given yearly to researchers at Goustave Roussy and DKFZ Heidelberg, the Nicola Werner Association sells original copies of my mom’s art, organises a fundraising bike-ride every September, the Nicola Werner Challenge. For those who don’t want to buy art or participate in the bike-ride or want to support a bit more, we are now also fundraising on the side. I have the goal to raise 5000€ for the Research Award. And if all of my blog’s followers were to give 10€ each I’d surpass this goal quickly.

Thank you!

Breaking the Silence

pink rosesI have been silent for some time now. The month of February only say 7 posts, of which two were guest posts (if you have not read them yet, please check them out). One was about Carnival in Cologne by Conny Kaufmann and the other about Mardi Gras by Diana Gordon. I did not promote their posts as much as I would normally do.

I did not join in  #WeekendCoffeeShare since the 4th Saturday of January, and it is an event that I absolutely love and rarely miss. I made sure to participate in #1000speak on the 20th of February, the only post that was published in the 2nd half of the month. I have been almost completely absent from twitter and from my favourite blogs. I read less than I normally do, I commented less than usually, and I replied to almost no comment. Some of my readers and friends are waiting for me to reply to their emails, I will reply soon.

Some of my readers knew what was going on. Some send me messages to check if everything was ok. I am here, and I will be back but since mid January things have been tough, really tough actually.

Last May, my mother had been diagnosed with a very rare cancer, after months of treatment, chemo, then an oral chemo (tablets), and even immunotherapy the medical staff announced that the treatments could no longer be continued. This announcement was, if I recall correctly, on the 20th of January.

In the week that followed, I was alone with little one (psychologically this was hard, especially when realisation of what was going to happen, hit me like a high speed train), but made sure to spend a lot of time with my mom, she lived only 300m away, which makes things easier especially when you have a toddler in tow. I spend a weekend in Antwerp, and then spend as much time as I could with my mom during the month of February. This meant I was either working, replying to emails regarding lesson requests, or with my mom. I did not see S much, when I was at home I was either out of the house spending quality time with my mom or working.

Over the past weeks, I saw many members of my family and friends, who came to visit my mom. Thanks to their presence things were probably a less straining. Still, things were definitely exhausting.

Last week was the 1st week of the February vacation, most of my students were away on holidays, and I decided to not schedule any new lessons. What am I glad that I said that I am taking a week off! I guess deep inside me I knew things were not going to get better.

On Saturday, while her cousin and his wife were visiting, my mother decided that she did not want any more visitors. That she had no more force to see anyone.

Last week on Tuesday the 23rd of February 2016, the only day, since her initial diagnosis, that my mother did not get out of bed, she passed away in the evening of the same day.

Until my mother’s last breath, I was hoping, yes believing that there was a chance for a miracle!

This day, one week ago I lost my mother to cancer.

She was only 54 years old.

Today, my heart is aching, tears erupt on a regular basis.

Things will be different, always…

Today, I want to break the silence. I want to be active again. I want to do what my mother told me to do and what I promised her in silence as she was leaving.

Much love, Solveig ❤️