Cervivor’s founder Tamika Felder has been awarded Cancer Health’s 25: Black Lives Matter for her work towards health equity. She is among a dedicated and distinguished group of recipients, all who are working tirelessly to eliminate healthcare disparities within Black communities.
We could not be more proud of Tamika’s work in this space and beyond.
Checking in see how you’re doing, Laurie but I will begin with me, lol. First, congratulations on eight years as a cervical cancer survivor!
I have been peeking back at 2020 as some of the fog is beginning to clear. I learned so much about myself and how strong I am physical and mentally. A knee replacement started my Journey of WTF.
I had no previous knee issues until now and there was no question that I needed a new right knee. I did my research and found the best team but no one talked about the dark side, and how the pain would take me there. It sucked! It was a lot of body and mind work but I had no choice and I kept moving forward, learning how to walk again. I was so happy I could lift my knee that I started marching! My physical therapist and I laughed so hard, I can still hear her words “heel toe, heel toe”. Physical therapy was equal parts laughing and crying.
Then there was more crying when I was told I needed a left hip replacement. Really? WTF!
I was working so hard preparing for my knee surgery, clearing my mind and focusing on this new challenge of a hip replacement when BANG!
Literally bang. An 18-wheeler semi-truck hit me and my life forever changed. I repeated these words: I am alive. OMG I am alive and I lived through it!
I had to start all over with my knee physical therapy, then had the hip replacement but I smiled and lived! Then the damn concussion from the accident made me so dizzy and the ringing in my ears was unbearable. I stared brain therapy. There was so much laughing and fun but the physical therapy didn’t help so I went for an MRI.
I have a hard time with this part of 2020. The doctor tells me they found a brain tumor… WTF?? The doctor told me it’s not a big deal as it’s outside the brain and it will be a two-hour surgery. I had to do another MRI with contrast in a brain MRI machine. I was doing good and no one seemed worried. Eric went with me to the pre-op appointment and I had all my questions ready. I thought I was fully prepared but I will never forget the words I heard, “Laurie I’m so sorry to tell you the tumors are larger and growing remarkably close to your main artery. You will need two surgeries.” I cried but you know I still asked my questions! It’s funny what I held onto from that moment; I just remember thinking how cool that a 3-D printer was going to make my new skull plate! I had six weeks to prepare my mind and body.
Cervivor’s Cervical Cancer Summit was my life jacket in taking my power back! You never know who will touch you with a word and I received so many words that weekend!
Medical power of attorney, medical directive, living will; I had that conversation with Eric and it was healing. I printed everything and it sat on the table. I read and re-read it again and then I laughed and I filled it out. It was so freeing. Then I went and did something crazy: I harnessed the power of Wonder Woman and got myself a Wonder Woman costume to wear into the hospital on my surgery day!
I knew no matter what happened I was going to be okay. I have never told anyone this but I kept saying “no matter what I will be okay” as I was being rolled into the operating room.
The first surgery took a lot out of me. It took me a couple of days to regroup before the second surgery and I had to really dig deep, deeper than I have ever done before.
This drawing helped me so much it. This showed me that I could do this.
Can you believe I had four surgeries within an eight month period? I am so grateful, blessed and I am not done yet! Thank you for teaching me how to keep laughing and living!
This also helped me with my digging out and moving forward and it’s pretty cool: Fear is a noun and a verb. Noun: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.Verb: be afraid of someone or something as likely to be dangerous, painful or threatening.
Fear is a feeling or emotion, yeah a mind bender moment for me.
I take small steps one at a time and I keep moving forward. I have a huge team of people around me. Some I have never met but they care and worked so hard to help get me here. I say thank you daily by living my best life!
Laurie, I am so proud of you and I love you so much! I can’t wait to see what you do next!
Love & Hugs, Me
P.S. Looking forward to your next letter.
Laurie is a 2017 Cervivor School graduate, a member of the Cervivor community, and Executive Director of Cervical Cancer Colorado Connection. Her resilience is truly insurmountable! We are sending her tons of Cervivor love and support.