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Oral Cancer Prevention

#PapChat- A discussion

Join us for our #PapChat Instagram series as we talk with women about their Pap test experiences!

Daanis-Chosa

Daanis Chosa (Bois Forte Band of Chippewa), says she was nervous before her first Pap test at 18 because she didn’t know how it was going to go. In reality, “for the actual experience, they make you feel comfortable, give you time to get undressed and relax. Then it’s smooth sailing. The first time I thought it was going to hurt, but it didn’t. I remember feeling a pinch, but that was really it. There wasn’t any pain, instead, it felt like pressure.” #PapChat

Melanie-Plucinski

Regarding the stigma surrounding cervical cancer, Melanie Plucinski (Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Ojibwe) feels that not talking about HPV is dangerous. “It is critical for us to remove that stigma. It can literally save lives. The majority of HPV diagnoses don’t lead to cancer if women are screened regularly. This is important to know so that women can maintain their health. I would be willing to talk to anyone about getting a Pap. Pap testing is not something to be afraid of.” #PapChat

Joy-Rivera

As AICAF’s Community Health Education Specialist, Joy Rivera (Haudenosaunee) knows the importance of talking about screening. “The more people who tell their stories, the easier it gets. Like with breast cancer screening, the more stories I hear in the community, the more it reminds me to stay on schedule. I appreciate people in a community who are willing to share their experiences, especially elders.” #PapChat

Amber-Cardinal

When it comes to giving advice to young women getting their first Pap tests, Amber Cardinal (Arikara, Hidatsa, and Ojibwa) thinks of what she would tell her younger sisters: “Make sure that you get them. As often as they are allowed. Be honest with your doctor. Go in with an open mind. Just do it, even if it’s awkward, uncomfortable or ‘the worst thing ever,’ you just gotta do it.” #PapChat

Laura-Roberts-BA

Leading AICAF’s cervical cancer programming, Health Programs Specialist Laura Roberts BA (Red Lake Ojibwe and Santee Dakota) has advice for women getting Pap tests: “Listen to your discomforts. If it doesn’t feel right between you and your doctor or clinic, you should look for something else. Pap tests are very private, so you should go to a clinic where you feel welcome.” #PapChat

Robert DesJarlait

July 29, 2019

When the emcee called for cancer survivors to come out to the floor at the 2013 Powwow for Hope, Robert DesJarlait (Red Lake Band of Chippewa) walked out to the shock of all those around him. “It was an emotional experience” Robert said, reflecting on his decision to go public for the first time about his cancer story.

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“I knew my body and was brave enough to not take ‘No’ as an answer. It saved my life.” Her doctor eventually felt the lump and ordered a biopsy. Frances was in her car before going into work the morning she got the call. The nurse told her she had breast cancer and it was rare and a very aggressive kind of breast cancer, Triple Negative Stage 2A. Frances sat alone in her car trying to grasp and understand the news she just received. She told her husband, three daughters, and son, she had their total support.

At the time of her diagnosis, Frances was the First Lady to her husband, George Tiger the Chief of Muscogee Creek Tribe. When treatment began, Frances was very private and hesitant to talk about her breast cancer. “I faced every day with a positive outlook. I never gave up.”, Frances explained. One day she received a call from a tribal elder, “I have had you on my heart today and I wanted to talk to you. God sent me a message to tell you to share your story, you are a voice for Native American Women.” Frances took the elder’s words to heart. She began to share her 18-month cancer treatment on Facebook. “When you get a cancer diagnosis, your life changes from the way you know it, to doctor appointments, chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and being home to recover. Frances shared it all on Facebook.

Frances was the guest speaker for the Muscogee Creek Pink Party and touched many lives. “There were hundreds of people there and many were crying.” Women who had never had a mammogram were inspired to be screened, others were inspired to share their story as well. “God blessed me to speak about my journey. I never asked ‘Why?’”. Frances received an outpouring of support from Facebook friends. They sent prayers, messages, cards, and gifts in the mail. Frances participated in genetic testing to see if there was a genetic link to her mother’s breast cancer. The test results showed that the breast cancer she had was not related to her mother’s and her cancer would not be genetically passed on to her children.

Before her first chemotherapy treatment, Frances, her daughters, and granddaughter cut their hair and donated it to Locks of Love. It was something they did together and to give Frances love and support. Frances did not begin to lose her hair until Day 21 after chemo. The American Cancer Society was a great resource during this time, Frances found it very comforting to know there was an organization to support her with a new wig and cancer education for her and her daughters.

Today, Frances’ hair has grown back and she is doing well. She is very active and campaigning for her husband’s bid for Muskogee Creek Nation National Council. She attributes her health to her support system, “I cannot thank my family enough, George, my husband, Angela, Mollie, Kendra, Kenneth and Gina for their words of encouragement and endless nights of support. Most of all, thank you to the Creator, He carried me through.” Frances would also like to thank all of the Facebook friends who supported her when she needed it most. The advice she would like to share with other American Indian and Alaskan Native Women is, “Don’t be afraid if you find something. Go to the doctor and get checked!”

Community-Education-and-outreach

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