Growing up, sex was not something that my family spoke about. It was as if there were some secret handbook that stated, “Do not engage in conversations about sex or the reproductive health of women in this family.”
“I never want other women and girls to be scared to seek help.”
Although my grandma had endometrial cancer and my aunt breast cancer, no one made a point to sit us down and talk about it so I never asked. Even when I got my first my visit from “Aunt Flo,” I never told anyone or asked questions. I just dealt with it on my own.
My senior year of high school, I became sexually active. It was around this same time that my then boyfriend gave me gonorrhea. He was the only person I had been with, but he never acknowledged his role or said that he was sorry. I knew that I could not tell anyone in my family, and I was too ashamed. So at the age of 17, I went to the hospital alone. And I will never forget how that experience affected me physically and emotionally.
Now that I am older, I try to be more aware of my health. I try to take care of myself and educate myself. However, I am still scared that one day I might be diagnosed with endometrial cancer or breast cancer. Every day I worry about my health as a young woman but society’s stigmas tell me to ignore those feelings.
That is why I fight for the sexual and reproductive rights of women in this country, especially young girls. I never want them to be scared. Scared to ask for help or to seek help. And to anyone who is trying to reinforce that element of fear into their lives I say: Shame on you. Shame on you for thinking that you have the right to control what women decide to do with their bodies and their lives.