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RELATED KEYWORDS: Michel-Baldwin|Cancer|American

Documentary on US woman’s crusade against cervical cancer

VARANASI: In a bid to spread message that cervical cancer is preventable, an American woman Michel Baldwin, who died recently, had visited several cities across India during the last stage of cervical cancer with a wish to create awareness about the disease among underprivileged sections of India, who are unaware of it.

A documentary named, 'Lady Ganga', directed by Fredrick Lumiere and Mark Hefti as producer was also made on her struggle to spread the word among the masses that cervical disease is curable.

"When we learnt Michel's story we were inspired and thought that through this documentary, millions of people could be educated about the disease," Hefti said. "Initially, while making the documentary we were in need of funds to make it and spread a word about it. But, after we uploaded it online, many people came forward to support the cause and we received around $1,62,000," he added.

Michel's mother Ruth said, "In our country, over 4,000 women die of cervical cancer in a year. My daughter's message on Ganga had one idea and one cause and that was to stop human papilomavirus (HPV). Even though she was in her last stage of cancer, she decided to visit places, especially in India to make a difference in the lives of women suffering from the disease. She wanted to spread the word that this is preventable and it is important for everyone to get vaccinated," she said. Ruth said that they will perform a puja in Ganga in a couple of days.

"The story was inspiring for me and I wish to be a doctor so that I can spread my mother's message to the entire world. I keep encouraging my friends and people of my age group to come forward and talk about it, get vaccinated especially those between 9-20 years of age," Michel's daughter Audrey Baldwin said.

Former director of Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University (BHU), P Tiwari emphasized on the education of women and said that cervical cancer can be easily prevented if diagnosed in an early stage. "Education of women is extremely important as only then they will be able to come forward and talk about it. Now, we have tests for diagnosis but it is important that women in rural areas also co-operate and get tested," she added.

Doctors said that HPV is so common that every sexually active person could get afflicted.

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