Preventing HPV: Documentary to highlight cancer prevention

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Above all, Noblesville resident Brenda Forbes wants people to be educated about the Human Papillomavirus infection and ways it can be prevented through a vaccine commonly known as Gardasil.

Forbes’ daughter Kristen lost her life to HPV cervical cancer June 1, 2008. She was only 23.

The “Someone You Love” documentary, featuring Kristen’s family, her story and four other women affected by the HPV virus, will be shown from 6 to 8 p.m. April 25 at the Noblesville High School auditorium, 18111 Cumberland Rd. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and light snacks will be provided. Kristen graduated from NHS in 2003. The documentary has never been shown in Noblesville before.

“Someone You Love” was screened in 13 international film festivals between 2014 and 2015. Only three of the women featured in the documentary are still alive.

A panel featuring Brenda and Kirk Forbes, Indiana State Dept. of Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana State Dept. of Health Division Director Dave McCormick and Indiana Immunization Coalition Executive Director Lisa Robertson will follow the 80-minute documentary. The event is free and open to the public.

“The public really needs to be educated,” Forbes said. “It’s the big disease right now that’s preventable with a vaccine.”

According to Janice Van Metre, director of nursing at the Hamilton County Health Dept., it is suggested HPV vaccines be given to kids ages 11 or 12 but can be administered as early as age 9 and up to age 26.

Van Metre said physicians oftentimes aren’t recommending the vaccines when it should be given because they don’t want to talk about sexual activity with the patient’s family. Because it’s not a required vaccine, a lot of kids don’t receive it.

The Hamilton County Health Dept. started giving the vaccine upon its release in 2006 and began offering it to males in 2009. If given before age 15, patients need only two doses instead of three.

“It’s more effective the younger they get it,” Van Metre said. “A lot of times we see kids who say to their parents that they want it. Word’s getting around to people, so we are excited about that, too.”

Van Metre said the health department has been searching for a venue to show the “Someone You Love” documentary but couldn’t afford to rent a movie theater. 

“It just so worked out with Noblesville High School offering their auditorium. We think it’s wonderful because that’s where Kristen Forbes went to high school,” Van Metre said. “We are very proud of it and very happy to do it. I just wish we could’ve done it sooner.”

Van Metre said the health department wants to show the documentary in other venues around the county, such as schools and hospitals.

Much of the event revolves around prevention.

“The goal is to get rid of this. It’s preventable,” Forbes said. “People need to be educated, people need to realize there is a vaccine. The vaccine is not well-advertised.”

Documentary screenings are often attended by health care workers, nurses and doctors.

The Forbes self-published a book about Kristen’s experiences, “Love, Kristen: One Young Woman’s Courageous Battle Against Cancer,” which details the last year of her life.

“She passed away in 2008 and we were going through her stuff,” Forbes said. “She always wrote. She had like 17 journals, and four of them were during her last year, and so one of our friends said you ought to write a book.”

The state of Indiana recently purchased a lifetime license for the documentary, allowing organizations to puchase and show it without paying licensing fees.

More on Kristen, her journey and the Forbes family can be found at kristeneve.org. “Love, Kristen” can be purchased at barnesandnoble.com. For more on the “Someone You Love” documentary or to view the trailer, visit hpvepidemic.com.

Recognizing the Kristen Forbes EVE Foundation

After Kristen Forbes died following a year-long struggle with HPV cervical cancer, her parents Brenda and Kirk Forbes established the Kristen Forbes EVE Foundation to educate others on HPV and prevention. The foundation has been recognized with the Governor and Cheri Daniels School Health Award and The Indianapolis Colts/Anthem Angel Award in 2017.

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