Parents who decline to have their children vaccinated against HPV probably think they’ll never
regret that decision.
They should hear the story of Liz Kapeel of San Antonio.
Parents want what’s best for their children. They certainly want to do what they can to prevent
their children from getting life-threatening diseases like cancer. But many of them don’t understand
the facts around the HPV vaccine and what it accomplishes: Safely preventing several types of
If you haven’t already heard Kapeel’s brave story, you’ll definitely want to listen in, which you
can still do online.
It’s a short segment, less than four minutes, but packed with must-hear information as well as the
inspiring story of a young woman who had barely graduated from university before she was diagnosed
with cervical cancer, which almost certainly could have been prevented if her mother had consented
to her being immunized against the HPV virus when Kapeel was a preteenager or teenager. The vaccine
protects against the strains of the virus that cause most cervical cancer as well several other
cancers, including of the mouth and throat.
Kapeel underwent three very difficult months of chemotherapy and radiation. The treatments appear
to have been successful, but also left her unable to bear children.
No one would blame Kapeel for just wanting to take care of herself now, but she is using her ordeal
in a powerful way, to speak to up about the importance of the HPV vaccine. She knows that her mother
regrets the decision not to have her vaccinated, and wants other parents to avoid that regret – and
for their children to avoid preventable cancers. She is especially active in the San Antonio area;
the city has the lowest HPV vaccination rate among major cities in Texas.
She wants pediatricians to make sure parents understand that the vaccine is all about one important
goal: preventing cancer in their children, an aim we all should agree is of paramount importance.
Kapeel has our admiration and gratitude for her openness and care for the health of others.
Included in the report by Texas Public Radio is an interview with The Immunization Partnership’s
own Cherise Rohr-Allegrini, TIP’s program director in San Antonio. You can listen to it here.
Editor’s note: This photo of Liz Kapeel is from her GoFundMe page, which raised more than its
goal for the funds to allow her to take the time off for treatment, and to travel home to her family
during that time.
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