An HPV Cancer Survivor’s Letter to Moms


Disclaimer :: The American Cancer Society sponsored this blog post to educate readers on human papillomavirus cancer prevention.

Dear moms,

I love my boys. There is nothing more gratifying than to toss the football with them, cheer them on from the stands of a baseball game, or watch them play soccer. Time with them is a gift. Not too long ago I thought I might lose them, or rather, that I might have to leave them.

One day I discovered a hardened lymph node on the side of my neck. I fight allergies from time to time so initially I let it go. Then a second nodule appeared near my clavicle, and I knew I needed to see a doctor. Having worked with oncology professionals for some time, I had several colleagues I could turn to. But I wasn’t prepared to learn that I had an inoperable cancerous tumor at the base of my tongue that had spread to my lymph nodes. It was cancer caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). I had just turned 50.

I’m sharing this story with you because maybe it will help you understand how an HPV cancer can threaten one’s life, and how you can prevent your child from being diagnosed with an HPV cancer when he or she reaches my age, or even sooner. 

You might be thinking, “It won’t happen to me. It won’t happen to my child.” 

sponsor post HPV cancer HPV is a common virus like the common cold in terms of the number of people infected. According to the American Cancer Society, four out of five Americans will get HPV during their lives. That means nearly every Texan will become infected with HPV at some point in their lifetime. Approximately 1,105 women in Texas will be diagnosed with a cervical cancer, and an estimated 1,215 men and women will be diagnosed with throat cancer this year—all caused by HPV. 

The HPV vaccine is cancer prevention, it’s safe and effective, and recommended for boys and girls at ages 11 and 12. I wish it would have been available to me 40 years ago. I know it’s two shots but trust me, two shots is no match to seven weeks of chemotherapy and radiation. Had the vaccine been available to me when I was 11, my family and I would not have had to undergo the pain and suffering associated with this cancer diagnosis.

Imagine if all 11- to 12-year-olds in the United States were vaccinated against HPV. The American Cancer Society estimates that 90 percent of HPV cancers could be prevented.

While I survived and am now cancer free, I did everything in my power to prevent my sons from going through a similar experience. I made sure they received the HPV vaccination before they turned 13. Please get your children—boys AND girls—vaccinated. It’s another way to show your love for them in a tangible action with a positive result. For more facts about the HPV vaccine and preventing HPV cancers, visit



hpv cancer patient Patrick Makarewich

Born and raised in Ypsilanti, Michigan, as the oldest of three children, Patrick Makarewich was raised on sports, school, and family, all of which he and his wife, Lourdes, have passed down to their two sons. Cancer wasn’t the first health-related challenge Patrick faced in life. After being diagnosed with significant hearing loss, he was required to begin wearing hearing aids in high school. Patrick earned his undergraduate degree in engineering and his master’s degree in business from the University of Michigan. With nearly 20 years of experience working in the healthcare industry, he currently supports patients and caregivers as a cancer program administrator in Texas. Patrick is a volunteer spokesperson for the mission of the American Cancer Society.


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