Last week, Linda Lewis wrote this note about Julyna in the Haute Flash newsletter (sign up here if you haven’t already). Normally this More Daily blog features brand-new content, but this message is so important, no matter where you stand (or shave) on the issue, that it is worth repeating. Let us know what you think.
Is Julyna a helpful message?
When journalists or PR peeps are looking to quote a cervical cancer survivor, I often get the call. Why? I am not the ultimate expert on the topic, nor is my story any more compelling than the next lucky woman to live with this disease (I say lucky when I consider the alternative). I am the go-to gal simply because I seem to be one of only a handful of local women willing to speak openly about a type of cancer now known to be caused by a sexually transmitted virus (HPV).
The stigma around cervical cancer is a deadly, pervasive virus itself, something that prevents far too many parents from allowing their adolescent children to get a vaccine that could ultimately save their lives.
So, I do admire anyone who tries to tackle the stigma, hoping to raise money and awareness. I applaud the spirit of the women who have started Julyna, the current campaign, endorsed by the Canadian Cancer Society. Inspired by the success of Movember, the moustache-growing fundraiser to fight prostate cancer, Julyna is a hair-razing humdinger of an idea: Women creatively shape their pubic hair in exchange for donations.
Still, I understand why this particular fundraiser has raised health experts’ eyebrows. My own oncologist Joan Murphy, who is the clinical lead for the Ontario Cervical Cancer Screening Program at Cancer Care Ontario, was quoted about her concern in the Globe and Mail last week: “Shaving your pubes to any different shape, I don’t think that’s going to bring discussion around the water cooler.”
Continued the Globe article, “Instead of fostering acceptance of cervical cancer, Julyna risks undoing efforts to destigmatize a disease that has traditionally been associated with promiscuity.” Noted Joan: “I’m not sure this risque campaign is going to help dig us out of that hole, frankly.”
After surgery, radiation and chemo, I can attest: Cervical cancer is one of the unsexiest causes around. Sure, if you want to help, go ahead: bikini wax away. But there is no one whose opinion I trust more than Joan’s, the first female gynecologic oncologist in Canada.
So here’s another option: donate to the cervical cancer fund at the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation. Joan and I co-founded it almost 10 years ago, in the hopes of eradicating this disease during our lifetime. It is possible — pubic hair notwithstanding.
Linda Lewis, Editor-in-Chief