Cervical cancer survivor will hold Walk 2 Inspire event to raise awareness

Quita Gibson knew something was wrong when her doctor called and asked her to come in for her Pap test results in June 2007.

Ms. Gibson was told her test showed malignant cancer cells but a biopsy was needed to confirm the finding. The biopsy confirmed that she was in the beginning stages of cervical cancer.

"I was shocked," she said. "I immediately started crying. I had just turned 30 years old and I had no kids, so the first thing that came to mind was if I would ever be able to conceive and have kids. I then began to think that maybe there was some mistake, because it couldn't be me."

Ms. Gibson first had a piece of her cervix taken out to remove the cancer. Later it was determined she had to have a trachelectomy, which removed her entire cervix.

After her diagnosis, she began looking for local support groups for cervical cancer patients and survivors.

"My family, friends, co-workers and doctors were all great supporters, but I needed to talk to someone who had gone through what I've gone through personally," she said. "I really wanted to find people who could relate to the fear and nervousness I felt."

Ms. Gibson joined the CSRA GYN Cancer Support Group but found she was the only one in the group who had cervical cancer. She decided to remain a member but still sought support from other cervical cancer survivors.

She then discovered the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, a grass-roots, nonprofit organization dedicated to serving women with, or at risk for, cervical cancer and human papillomavirus, or HPV

Ms. Gibson shared her story through the organization's groups and attended its conferences in 2007 and 2008.

In September, she celebrated one year as a cervical cancer survivor. She said her experiences with the National Cervical Cancer Coalition encouraged her to create her own organization, Walk 2 Inspire.

"In our area, I don't feel there is enough talk about cervical cancer," Ms. Gibson said. "There's a lot of awareness about breast cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer, but no one really talks about cervical cancer."

Walk 2 Inspire works to bring awareness of cervical cancer in the Augusta area and provide a support system for cervical cancer patients and survivors while educating women about the importance of regular pap tests.

On Saturday, the organization will sponsor a Cervical Cancer Awareness Information Seminar. The speakers will include a doctor from the Medical College of Georgia Cancer Center and a cervical cancer survivor.

"This is for women and girls of all ages," Ms. Gibson said. "The message I want to get out to all women and girls through this event is that no matter how busy or caught up in life they get, they have to put their health first and get their annual pap tests. Detecting it early can truly save lives."

To get more information about Walk 2 Inspire, visit www.walk2inspire.com.

Reach Nikasha Dicks at (706) 823-3336 or nikasha.dicks@augustachronicle.com.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Cervical Cancer Awareness Information Seminar

WHEN: 1 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: 209 Music Lounge, 4 Eighth St.

COST: Free

INFORMATION: walk2inspire@yahoo.com

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