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Home Cervical Cancer Cervical Cancer HPV News talks with Bay State Rocker and Cervical Cancer Survivor Christine Baze

HPV News talks with Bay State Rocker and Cervical Cancer Survivor Christine Baze

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“Put your hand in front of your face and spread your fingers out, right in front of your nose. That’s what cancer is when you’re first diagnosed, because you can’t look anywhere without seeing it.”

At age 31, Christine Baze was diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer. Like many women, she had never heard of HPV and says, “I was an educated and empowered woman, but I didn’t even know what a Pap test was for!”

Baze, whose treatment included chemotherapy and a radical hysterectomy, is now nine years beyond her diagnosis and, through the nonprofit Yellow Umbrella Tour organization she founded, works to make sure other women get the message that cervical cancer is preventable. To date she has performed over 100 concerts across the U.S. and Canada, all with the theme of educating women and their families on the importance of cervical cancer screening.

With a new CD on the market and other projects in the works since we first interviewed her in 2008, Christine spoke with HPV News recently to bring us up to speed on all things Baze.

HPV News: It’s been nearly two years since we first chatted with you for HPV News and introduced readers to your organization and the Yellow Umbrella tour. What are your current projects around cervical cancer awareness, and what’s up for 2010?
Baze: Two things that have just launched will be our main focus for 2010. My good friend Debra Macki is a celebrity make-up artist and she’s been so kind to create an eye-shadow pallet for the Yellow Umbrella organization. I’m always trying to find fun, creative new ways to reach women and get people’s attention and start the conversation about HPV and cervical cancer, and this is a way to combine style and beauty with saving the cervix. The product debuted at Boston fashion week this fall, went over very well, and is on sell now with 80% of the proceeds going to the Yellow Umbrella. This is another way to get people’s attention, and say “you can be beautiful on the outside and help a sister, and that’s how to be beautiful on the inside!”

The other project is just PAINT IT YELLOW, where I present and perform at community venues, junior and senior high schools, and colleges. This is important because we now have two cervical cancer vaccines on the market, and this lets me reach girls in the targeted age ranges, and their moms. I stress to them that we have prevention tools regardless of your age and my mission is to get everybody talking. I also just completed a documentary that followed me for a week of activity during my first PAINT IT YELLOW session in my hometown of Elmira, New York.

I want the whole community to know about cervical cancer prevention: Mothers, daughters, fathers, and brothers should get in so we can all be part of this together. I’ll do at least six PAINT IT YELLOW events in 2010, each with week-long activities. It brings my whole thing together as a performer and musician, with my background as a therapist and my desire to communicate with young kids and their parents. I love my life, I’m lucky!

Have the audiences changed since you started. Are they savvier about HPV?
They are more aware, yes. When I started touring, people had never heard of HPV and certainly had no idea it causes cervical cancer and that 80% of women have it by age 50. I think the basics are sinking in but confusion remains about how it all works, who gets HPV and how it’s transmitted. I thing that why “putting a face” on it continues to be crucial, along with giving people education about HPV, how common it is, and how cancer can be prevented.

You have a new album, Ever Changing Colors. Was it inspired by your own experience as a cervical cancer survivor?
Cervical cancer for me is 9 ½ years ago, but the ripple effect of it continues on and on. To break it out and say “this was the result of cervical cancer, and this piece too…” is hard. Being a survivor is now another part of my story, so whatever comes my way reflects that. The aftermath of cervical cancer created this undercurrent that flipped my world upside down, and the outcome is this album: Sharing the dark and the bright, the confusion, the down and dirty and the pretty, all at the same time. Where can the CD and the eye shadow be ordered? For the music, either go to Itunes or find it on my web site. The Debra Macki for the Yellow Umbrella mineral eye shadow palette is available online.

To contact Baze visit the Yellow Umbrella Tour Web site.