Prevention and early detection is always better than a cure. It’s the insight every survivor shares and we all want to be survivors. We’re human though and that means we procrastinate. We learn from an early age to develop little strategies so we can downplay life’s discomforts, put them off, and focus on the rewards. It may seem lazy, but in a reasonably safe society, it works…. most of the time.
Cervical and colon cancer are the pitfalls where it doesn’t. Both involve simple tests that compared to other medical procedures are insanely reasonable, yet invasive just enough to trigger a bit of shame and stigma. That, and the number of steps it takes to schedule and get to a doctor’s appointment, is all we need to defeat ourselves and turn a minor check-up into a consuming drama.
Jessica Ching is an industrial designer tackling the HPV test for cervical cancer. I admire her for choosing work that she feels can make a difference, but also because her solution is as much a human one as it is technical.
Her HerSwab device is elegant. A twist of one end extends the swab, and a twist back retracts it. Most of the accuracy comes from the shape.
She’s also thought about when you’ll likely be motivated to actually use it and how fleeting that can be. A moment of clarity over the weekend, a scare in the middle of the night, and so an order placed through her website is soon answered by a discreet box in the mail, filled with guidance, useful information, and a touch of humour. “Your vagina will thank you” is one of her tag lines.
Cancer, chemotherapy, infertility, the fears that loom are all better faced with a bit of a laugh, but the EveKit service is adaptive too. You mail off your specimen to her partner clinic for processing and review the results securely online. If there’s a concern, the hope is you’ll be better prepared to follow-up with your doctor, but if more discretion is needed, the EveKit service can connect you to alternate physicians too.
My initial concern with Jessica Ching’s Evekit was if it is as accurate as a doctor’s visit, but I realized that it doesn’t have to be. With so many women skipping the test, it just has to be more accurate than procrastination, that just taking the test is better than no test at all.
She’s also given thought to making sure it’s available to everyone and while there are plenty who would pay for a kit right now, she’s aiming for a launch later this year to have plans and coverage in place to take care of all financial situations.
I’m not a doctor, I have no expertise with cervical cancer, but in our radio series we do promote the need for critical thinking and problem-solving skills, of the value of seeing an issue from as many sides as you can and I think Jessica Ching’s EveKit is an excellent example of doing just that for an issue that is immensely important.