Wants All Women to “Love Your Lady Parts”
Camille Grammer, best known for her role as a “housewife” on the Bravo reality series Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, is a third-generation gynecologic cancer survivor. Her grandmother had endometrial cancer; her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 47 and is now fighting colon cancer; and she is a one-year survivor of endometrial cancer. Now, she is on a crusade to raise awareness about gynecologic cancers by encouraging all women to “Love Your Lady Parts.” Here, she shares her story with Coping magazine.
How were you diagnosed with endometrial cancer?
My grandmother and mother both had gynecologic cancers, so I had genetic testing done and tested positive for Lynch Syndrome when I was 35. Because of that, and unlike many women, I was familiar with the symptoms and had regular checkups every year – sometimes twice a year. Yet I was still caught off guard by my diagnosis of stage II clear cell carcinoma, an agressive form of endometrial cancer. My doctors had recommended I have a full hysterectomy at 35, but I wasn’t psychologically ready for that at the time. I waited several more years, and in retrospect, I waited too long.
What did your treatment involve?
My treatment included a radical hysterectomy, as well as chemo and radiation, which was done concurrently over a seven-week period – a grueling regimen. While I was undergoing treatment, I said over and over to my doctor, my nurses, and other caregivers, “We have to get the word out about these cancers. No one is talking about them, and that needs to change!”
What were some of the biggest struggles you faced as a mother going through cancer?
As a mother, the first thing you think of when you’re diagnosed with cancer is, “Am I going to be around to raise my children?” I knew that I had to conquer cancer for my children so I could see them graduate high school and get married. Not being there for them was my biggest worry.
We have to get the word out about these cancers. No one is talking about them, and that needs to change!
How do you continue the battle even after your cancer treatment?
It’s a continuing healing process. The radiation side effects seem to stick with you, so even now, more than a year after I’ve finished radiation, I’m still trying to get my strength back. My body has changed. I’ve been paying attention to my diet, hiking, playing tennis, and trying to get my body back to where it was. It’s definitely a life changer, but I will continue to strive for my kids and my mother, who is still battling cancer.
Do you have any advice for other women going through cancer?
My advice to other women is to stay strong and hang in there. Be strong for your children and keep a positive attitude, even though it’s difficult. Pray or meditate, or do whatever you believe in. Keep your support team around you. I had a lot of support, and that’s very important.
What’s next for you?
I have been in the public eye as a Real Housewife for several years, but most of my fans don’t know that I’ve also been a longtime advocate for gynecologic cancer awareness, due to my family’s health history. Currently, I am honored and excited to serve as a national spokesperson for the Foundation for Women’s Cancer, as well as chair of the 2015 National Race to End Women’s Cancer. I consider this one of the most important roles of my life.
The Foundation wants people to think outside the bra – because we have other lady parts and we need to talk about them! I want my own daughter, and all our daughters, to grow up in a world where we have defeated these below-the-belt cancers that claim far too many lives.
It’s time to “Love Your Lady Parts!” We want all women to learn the symptoms, listen to their bodies, and seek care from a gynecologic oncologist for the best outcomes. That is the Foundation’s key message, and I am proud to share it and help raise awareness and research funding to save more women’s lives.
Learn more about the Foundation for Women’s Cancer and its mission to raise awareness and research funding to defeat gynecologic cancers at FoundationForWomensCancer.org.