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Nurses: A Force for Change

Posted by On May 12, 2014
Photo of May By Andrea Kirsten-Coleman Today is International Nurses Day, a time to celebrate the dedication and hard work of all nurses—our heroes—and raise awareness of all that they do to build a healthier future for their communities. The work that nurses do is critical to saving women and girls from cervical and breast cancer. Nurses inspire us not only because of the courageous work that they do, but also because of the role models they are. One such example is May, a nurse at Livingstone General Hospital in the Republic of Zambia. She has dedicated her career to preventing women from contracting cervical cancer by advocating the benefits of screenings. She could never imagine that her message to others would one day save her own life. May is part of a team that educates, screens, and treats women for cervical cancer, locally and throughout remote areas of Zambia for cervical cancer. Their message is simple, “You think your health is fine? Get screened, and know you’re fine.” One day, May followed her own advice and got screened, only to find that she had a pre-cancerous lesion. “I was naturally upset, but hopeful,” says May. “With my knowledge, I knew that the lesion they found could be treated.” Months after undergoing cryotherapy, she was nervous to have her follow-up exam, but knew she had to be certain the lesion had not returned. “The nurse told me I was healthy. I was so happy!” Days later, May and three other nurses accompanied a mobile hospital unit headed for the remote area of Choma, Zambia. Over six days, May shared her story with any woman who would listen, and encouraged all those in attendance to get screened. May and her colleagues screened 1,152 women that week—giving hope to each of them and their families. May’s story is an inspiration to us all. She says, “It’s not always easy to convince someone to get screened, but we must keep on telling them.” Her story is also a challenge. Today, we admonish all nurses to apply to themselves their message to others. Nurses: get screened for cervical cancer, to know that you are fine. May’s dedication to promoting health and education in her community, and the dedication of nurses everywhere—especially in Zambia, Botswana, and Tanzania—is the reason the work of Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon is possible. Together, with the help of these hundreds of nurses, we are saving lives. Andrea Kirsten-Coleman is Program Manager, Communications, Development and Partner Outreach, Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon.