This year marks the fourth WOW Walk of Women 7K on June 1, which benefits women currently in treatment and cancer survivors in the Atlanta area. The walk stretches 4.34 miles and starts at 8:30 a.m. next to WellStar Kennestone Hospital at 833 Campbell Hill St. and ends at Kennesaw Mountain National Park. Adams expects 200 walkers will participate, with a goal of 300.
WOW stands for Wellness of Women through services that are provided for women undergoing treatment such as help with transportation, help paying for medications, help paying for exercise programs and more.
“If you’re in treatment or you need some assistance, we will help pay for meds and we will pay for transportation. I also like to encourage people to eat differently,” said Adams, 38. “I will pay for a dietitian. I also encourage some light exercise. Chemo can deteriorate your muscle tone, and you will have a little bit more energy if you keep up your muscle tone. That’s where the wellness comes from. Hopefully, it will carry on afterwards.”
WOW also stands for Words of Women through its support group. Women currently in treatment are offered encouragement and help during support group meetings. Psychological Services of Atlanta provides free counseling through the group.
Adams wants to raise awareness, provide information and create support systems for women afflicted with cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal and vulvar cancers.
Her journey began in August 2009. After Adams gave birth to her second daughter, Mackenzie, she noticed some bleeding that lasted more than two weeks. A series of tests determined Adams had Stage 3 cervical cancer, and she had to leave her job as a teacher at Kennesaw Mountain High School to undergo treatment.
“They were afraid it was inoperable. I got my radical hysterectomy right away,” Adams said. “I woke up to find out it had indeed spread.”
Adams then received 25 radiation treatments and seven months of chemotherapy. Through it all, her family offered limitless care and support. Her sister left her home in Arizona and moved in with Adams, her husband and two children. She helped cook and look after Adams’ children while her husband, Chris, worked and Adams underwent treatment which incapacitated her for days.
“Friends and family — everybody just stepped up,” Adams said. “They are an amazing group of people. I know everybody doesn’t have that. It really does make a world of difference when you have people to get you through it.”
Since Adams was deemed free of cancer in May 2010, she has organized and completed three walks and has raised more than $30,000, helping 85 women. She said she recognized a need for support and funds for women diagnosed with gynecological cancers in the Atlanta area.
“I looked around and tried to research support for gynecological cancers,” Adams said. “I didn’t see anything.”
Between raising her family and juggling the WOW organization, Adams has her hands full and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s a one-woman show at this point,” Adams said. “I love it. I have two small children, and when they’re in school that’s when I work. All the money raised is going directly back to women.”
This year, a raffle will be conducted at the walk and the winner will receive a “scholarship” to attend the National Women’s Survivor Convention on Aug. 22-24 in Nashville, Tenn. The convention is a three-day event that includes empowerment sessions, workshops, expos, makeovers, spa venues and stories from survivors. The “scholarship” pays the $139 cost to attend the conference.
Adams will also be attending the conference. Her husband wrote a letter to conference organizers last year and won her a trip as a surprise.
“He is the sweetest man alive,” she said.
A camera crew caught the moment on tape when Adams was told she won.
“I have never been surprised in my life,” she said. “I had all these people at my house. They were all wearing their WOW shirts. It was the anniversary of my being cancer–free.”
To see the video, visit www.walkofwomen.com.
Participants in the WOW Walk of Women can walk or run. Medals are awarded for the top three men and top three women at the finish line.
The cost to register is $30, and walkers will get a WOW T-shirt. Cancer survivors walk for free. A van will help pick up walkers and runners if they get tired. “Sleep Walkers” can register, receive a T-shirt and sit out of the walk if they choose. To register, visit www.walkofwomen.com.
Sponsors include RPM Photography and Psychological Services of Atlanta. Use the coupon code “mdj” to save $5 on registration fee.
Find out more about WOW Walk of Women on Facebook and Twitter and email firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix — the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina.
* Various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), cause most cases of cervical cancer. When exposed to HPV, a woman’s immune system typically prevents the virus from doing harm. In a small group of women, however, the virus survives for years, contributing to the process that causes some cells on the surface of the cervix to become cancer cells.
* The death rate from cervical cancer is declining, thanks in part to screening.
* Cervical cancer is highly preventable in most Western countries because screening tests and a vaccine to prevent HPV infections are available. When cervical cancer is found early, it is highly treatable and associated with long survival and good quality of life.
* All women are at risk for cervical cancer. It occurs most often in women over age 30.
n Each year, about 12,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer. About 4,000 die each year in the U.S.
* Cervical cancer used to be the leading cause of cancer deaths for women in the United States. However, in the past 40 years, the number of cases of cervical cancer and the number of deaths from cervical cancer have decreased significantly. This decline largely is the result of many women getting regular Pap tests, which can find cervical precancer before it turns into cancer.
* Gardasil, released on the market in 2006, is a vaccine for use in the prevention of certain types of HPV, specifically types 6, 11, 16 and 18. HPV types 16 and 18 cause an estimated 70 percent of cervical cancers. Though it does not treat existing infection, vaccination is still recommended for HPV positive individuals, as it may protect against one or more different strains of the disease. The FDA recommends vaccination before adolescence.
* Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge.
* A significant unexplained change in your menstrual cycle
* Pain during sex
* Pain during urination
* Swollen legs
* History of dysplasia (precancerous cell changes)