Cincy Chic: Jaymie Lynn Jamison is a name Cincinnatians will be hearing a lot about over the next month with your big event coming up. Can you tell me about her?
Dr. William Richards, Director, Division of Gynecologic Oncology & Advanced Pelvic Surgery & Urogynecology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine: Jaymie, who was my patient, passed away in February after a nine month battle with cervical cancer. She hadn’t had a PAP smear in three years, being a busy mom of four, teacher to special needs adults and lack of insurance coverage. By the time she was diagnosed, Jaymie had a large cancerous mass and the cancer had already started to spread. Jaymie was remarkable in the way she fought. When she realized that she wouldn’t be able to fight for her life she wanted to fight for others and The Jaymie Jamison Foundation for Hope was born.
Cincy Chic: So, in a time when most people ask "why me?" she focused on helping others?
Richards: Absolutely. From the moment of her diagnosis Jaymie’s instinct was to fight hard, and she did. Six months later, around Christmas, her prognosis became terminal. It’s at that point that Jaymie taught everyone how to focus on "What can I do?"
Although the disease was attacking her body, she was not going to let it win. Jaymie, along with her family and closest friends, decided to tell her story and to let other women know how vicious cervical cancer is. They didn’t want it to be cervical cancer against one woman, but all women against cervical cancer. Thus, The Jaymie Jamison Foundation for Hope was created.
Cincy Chic: Tell me more about how The Jaymie Jamison Foundation for Hope got started.
Richards: On February 6 2011, less than a year after being diagnosed, Jaymie lost the battle with her cervical cancer. Within weeks, Jaymie’s family and friends fulfilled a promise they had made to her and pushed on with the Jaymie Jamison Foundation for Hope. They insist on using the foundation as a platform to create awareness, support and pay it forward to other women and families fighting for the same cause.
Cincy Chic: What does the Foundation aim to accomplish exactly?
Richards: The Jaymie Jamison Foundation for Hope has four main goals:
1. Awareness – annual PAP smear tests and appointments with a Gynecologist along with preventative vaccinations this disease can be prevented, detected and treated.
2. Provide a helping hand to families going through the same, horrific experience.
3. Financial Support for the research efforts to prevent, diagnose and treat cervical cancer.
4. This last goal was Jaymie’s direct wish. She wanted to make sure others received the same first-rate hospice care support as she did. So, the final goal is to provide financial support to the Hospice for Hope.
Cincy Chic: How did the idea for "Panties Across the Bridge" come up?
Richards: It was the idea of Jaymie’s 14-year-old daughter. She had attended Q-102’s "Bras Across the Bridge" event several years ago with her mother, before she was ever diagnosed with cervical cancer. Jaymie thought it was important to go and of course thought the event was a fun way to create awareness. The day after Jaymie passed, a family friend took all the kids to the Museum so that the rest of the family could make necessary arrangements for her service. When they drove over the Big Mac Bridge, the daughter said "we should do Panties across the Bridge. That covers all the girly bits, right?"
In four short months, the Foundation has held community awareness events, and involved local TV (WCPO), local radio (Q102) and other press to their efforts. The Mayor of Cincinnati has granted a Proclamation of the city and made July 16 the "Jaymie Jamison Foundation of Hope Day," which is when our event will be held all day on the Purple People Bridge. This family-friendly event will create awareness to cervical cancer, support fighters, celebrate the survivors and honor those families and women who are the angels of this disease.
Cincy Chic: How can people get involved?
Richards: The foundation is asking for donations and new panties to string across the bridge. Each year, nearly 11,070 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer while more than 3,800 die from this dreaded disease. In a spooky coincidence, we’ll need about 3,800 panties to go one length across the bridge. We hope, at minimum, to get a pair of panties to honor every woman who will pay the ultimate sacrifice. So, please donate! Visit www.jaymiejamisonfoundation.com to find a drop off location near you.
Cincy Chic: Great! Anything else people can do to help?
Richards: Yes, share Jaymie’s story. Make all women aware of how important annual PAP screenings are. Schedule and encourage all women you know and care about to schedule their PAP screenings annually. Know the symptoms and see your physician immediately if you suspect anything.
Cincy Chic: For those who don’t know exactly what it is, can you explain what cervical cancer is?
Richards: Sure. Cervical cancer is a cancer of the female reproductive tract that begins in the cervix, the part of the uterus or womb that opens to the vagina. If left too long before being diagnosed it can spread to other sites in the woman’s body.
In this country, it truly is the easiest gynecologic cancer to prevent through early screening using the PAP smear test. Recent advances in cervical screening and the development of certain HPV (a virus know to cause cervical cancer) vaccines gives us the hope to wipe out cervical cancer.
There are four ways you can prevent this disease. First, get your annual PAP smear once you turn 18 or become sexually active. Second, make sure you get the cervical cancer vaccine when you are eligible. Third, get your HPV test when indicated. And fourth, always report to your doctor issues that are troubling such as irregular bleeding, abnormal discharge, pelvic pain or pressure.
Watch the video below to learn more about Jaymie, her family and her battle with cervical cancer.