Share the Story: Uterine Cancer Advocacy

As national spokesperson for the Foundation for Women’s Cancer, Camille Grammer is committed to fighting gynecologic cancer.

By Karen Bate

This year 98,000 women will be diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer—that’s another mother, daughter, sister, friend, or colleague every five minutes. Too many are diagnosed in the late stages, and nearly a third will die.

Far too few women—and men—know how to recognize the symp­toms of these cancers and where to turn for the best treatment and out­comes. Risks rise with age, weight, and other factors.

Camille Grammer, best known from her role on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, lends her voice and celebrity as national spokesperson for the Foundation for Women’s Cancer, which supports survivors and works to raise aware­ness and research funding to defeat gynecologic cancers. Camille is a third-generation gynecologic can­cer survivor: her grandmother had endometrial cancer, her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 47 and continues to fight colon cancer today, and Camille herself is a one-year survivor of endometrial cancer.

This is her story.

I have been in the public eye as a Real Housewife for several years, but most of my fans didn’t know that I have also been a longtime advocate for gynecologic cancer awareness due to my family’s health history. I am committed to raising awareness and funding as national spokeswoman and chair of the 2015 National Race to End Women’s Cancer. I consider this one of the most important roles of my life.

Because my grandmother and mother both had gynecologic can­cers, we underwent genetic testing and tested positive for Lynch syn­drome. As a result, I had check­ups every year—sometimes twice each year—but I was still caught off guard by my diagnosis of Stage II uterine clear cell carcinoma. My doctors recommended that I have a full hysterectomy at 35, but I wasn’t psychologically ready for that. I waited several more years and, in retrospect, I waited too long.

My treatment included surgery, chemo, and radiation—a gruel­ing regimen under the expert care of a gynecologic oncologist, Pedro Ramirez, MD, at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston; and while I lay in my chemo bed, I said over and over to Dr. Ramirez, to my nurses, and to other caregivers, “We have to get the word out about these cancers! No one is talking about them and that needs to change!”

The Foundation for Women’s Cancer wants people to think out­side the bra—because we have other lady parts and we need to talk about them! I want my own daughter and all of our daughters to grow up in a world where we have defeated these below-the-belt cancers that claim far too many lives. It’s time to love your lady parts!

The Love Your Lady Parts cam­paign, and the hearthands symbol that goes with it, is our symbol—it represents our hearts for this move­ment—to love ourselves and love our lady parts—even we who may have lost some of those parts.

We are survivors. We are still women, and we want all women to learn the symptoms, listen to their bodies, and seek care from a gyneco­logic oncologist for the best outcomes.

That is the founda­tion’s key message, and I am proud to share it and to help raise awareness and research funding to save more women’s lives. I don’t want women to make the mistake I did of wait­ing too long to act. I want to spare them the surgery, chemo, radiation, and all the many symptoms that continue long after your treatment is done. Cancer truly is the gift that keeps on giv­ing—and not in a good way.

I am honored and excited to serve as the Foundation for Women’s Cancer national spokeswoman and chair of its 2015 National Race. I am especially proud that my team, Camille’s Crusaders, is again gar­nering support from my friends, family, and even fans throughout the United States for the founda­tion’s awareness, education, and research programs.

Last year I was thrilled to expe­rience National Race Weekend in Washington, DC; to meet other sur­vivors and their families; to speak at the National Race; and to be part of that amazing day. It really is true that this is more than just a race— it’s a movement.


 

Join the Movement!

Register or donate to support Camille’s Crusaders or form your own team for the 2015 National Race to End Women’s Cancer, Sunday, November 8, in Washington, DC. Learn more at foundationforwomenscancer.org and endwomenscancer.org.