I’m S.Y. Hoehler (Yohanna), the founder of the Vulvar Cancer Awareness Forum.
This month was my 4 year Cancerversary. Yes, this word actually exists among the cancer community. On December 11, 2017, I was diagnosed with stage 3 vulvar cancer. That doesn’t really seem to be a day to acknowledge, or to be celebrated. It was indeed one of the worst days of my life, but I choose to celebrate. Not the diagnosis, but LIFE!!
What is there to celebrate you might ask?! The 15 surgeries, countless biopsies, scans, so many needle pokes I lost track, weeks and weeks in the hospital, unbearable pain, infections, mental and emotional breakdowns, daily physical challenges and agony and recurrences don’t seem like something to be celebrated. Then, there was the horrendous radiation and chemotherapy and almost losing my life, but yet I celebrate! I CELEBRATE 4 YEARS OF TRIUMPH!!!!
Last year in June of 2020, I was finally NED for the first time since my diagnosis. Sadly, that didn’t last too long and a little over a year later, I’m having another recurrence. Even now, as I deal with another recurrence and going through chemo treatment, I celebrate the victories!!! I AM STILL HERE!! I have officially survived 1,461 days since diagnosis.
During this time, I found a new kind of strength. I’ve experienced God’s grace in unimaginable and amazing ways. I felt my weakness being replaced with the Father’s strength day after day after day! I have cried many tears, I have been in physical agony, and although I’m in pain every second of each day, I feel the supernatural push that helps me to keep going and ENJOY AND LIVE LIFE REGARDLESS!
I celebrate the unexplainable love and support I have received from loved ones, strangers and new found friends/sisters who are fighting the same battle. I celebrate the purpose that has been born out of this and has grown to be the Vulvar Cancer Awareness Forum. I celebrate every person who now knows this cancer exists because God gave me the strength to speak up. I celebrate the lives that have been saved as a result of it. 4 years later, I’m thankful for each moment! I’m grateful for the generosity and love that surrounds me daily. I’m determined to go on with God, believing Him for my complete healing and FAITHING IT as I have been doing since day one because I’M A CONQUERER!
We all have the power to make a difference by letting our voices be heard. After all, awareness saves lives.
About Vulvar Cancer Awareness Forum:
In December 2017, I was diagnosed with stage 3 vulvar cancer caused by Lichen Sclerosus. Personally, I had never heard of this cancer until I was diagnosed. I quickly found out that the same is true for so many others. The lack of information, education, awareness and recourses for this cancer is mind boggling and unacceptable. I realized very early on that something had to change. There is this saying, “be the change you want to see”, and another saying goes something like, “if something needs to change, it starts with you”. Well, I truly believe this to be true, and made it my mission to create the change that is so desperately needed when it comes to vulvar cancer.
After many days and nights of brain storming, Vulvar Cancer Awareness Forum was born and became an official entity in March, 2018 . It is our mission to raise awareness for this little talked about cancer, educate on it, and provide hands on support for patients. We also actively advocate for change and advancements in vulvar cancer treatments, research, early detection, development of screenings, etc. We provide several different recourses for patients, and are getting ready to add more in January 2022. Awareness saves lives, and together we will make a difference!
This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.