Survivng Cancer

Reducing HPV Cancer Stigma with PRIDE

Calvin Nokes, a 63-year-old anal cancer survivor from Virginia, dedicates his time to advocate for HPV vaccination and cancer prevention.

Before his diagnosis, Nokes was unaware of the risks of HPV infection or HPV cancers for men. He was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2009 after confusing his symptoms with hemorrhoids. Nokes found it difficult to talk about his diagnosis with friends and family because of the shame and embarrassment he felt from stigma related to HPV. His identity as a gay man made him even more hesitant to share or to advocate publicly.

However, after learning more about the importance of HPV vaccination as cancer prevention, Nokes’ desire for people to “not be in the dark” helped him overcome his fear of stigma and led him into advocacy.

Photo of Calvin Nokes

Calvin Nokes

“I’ve learned communication is key,” Nokes said. “Talk to the doctors and share with those close to you. I was lucky and survived cancer twice because I acted early. It has been a rough and emotional journey, but by being an advocate I raised awareness and let people know there are organizations that can help them.”

Nokes continues to use his connections and platforms to share information about his diagnosis, survivorship, and HPV cancer prevention, especially among LBGTQIA+ communities.