HPV Awareness

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On Wednesday May 6, the Junior League of Chicago (JLC) welcomed Khitam “Khit” Masoud, lead speaker for the Imerman Angels, an organization focused on offering one-on-one cancer support mentoring. Imerman Angels partners anyone seeking cancer support with a “Mentor Angel” through a matching process. The role of the Mentor Angel is meant to provide cancer fighters or caregivers the chance to ask personal questions and find support from someone who has gone through similar experiences. Mentor Angels lend empathy and support, as they are cancer survivors or caregivers of the same age, gender, and cancer diagnosis. These individuals not only offer support systems but also provide knowledge and treatment options.

Mentor Angel and Team Imerman Angels Recruiter, Khit Masoud

Mentor Angel and Team Imerman Angels Recruiter, Khit Masoud

As a Mentor Angel and Team Imerman Angels Recruiter, Khit spoke candidly to JLC members about her first-hand account battling vulva cancer caused by HPV. Diagnosed at the age of twenty-six, Khit was forced to deal with surgeries and stigmas after having lived a seemingly healthy lifestyle. As a college athlete and successful young woman, Khit fought her cancer head on and handled her diagnosis with strength and humor. She decided to make a difference and use her voice to spread awareness by becoming a motivational speaker, educating both men and women on HPV, including tips on preventing the spread of the virus.

Khit provided the following information on HPV:

  •         HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) with about 79 million Americans currently infected
  •         Symptoms of HPV can develop years after contracting the virus
  •         Nearly all sexually active men and women get HPV at some point in their lives
  •         In most cases HPV goes away on its own and does not cause health problems
  •         High-risk HPV strains are the ones that can cause cancer
  •         About 12 high-risk HPV types have been identified
  •         #1 cause of cervical cancer is HPV
  •         HPV can also cause cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, throat, neck, tongue, and tonsils

Additionally, Khit explained the steps that can be taken to prevent the spread of HPV:

  •         Boys and girls ages 11 to 12 can get vaccinated with three shots over six months
  •         Routine screening for women between the ages of 21 to 65 can prevent cervical cancer (Pap test)
  •         Screening for women is important as men cannot be tested for HPV
  •         If sexually active, use latex condoms
  •         Be in a mutually monogamous relationship

If you or someone you know has been affected by cancer and is in need of support, please feel free to reach out to Khit Masoud at kmasoud@imermanangels.org

By Amy Marchlen, 2014-15 Topics & Trends staff member

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