Survivor Slimdown

In 2018, there will be an estimated 1.7 million new cases of cancer diagnosed in the U.S., with that number estimated to be 23.6 million worldwide by 2030. Thankfully with advances in medicine, the number of survivors of the disease is also on the rise. The National Cancer Institute reports that in 2016 there were 15.5 million cancer survivors in the U.S. and that number is expected to increase to 20.3 million by 2026.  Cancer Survivorship is an area that continues to be studied, as practitioners seek to help patients learn to live life beyond cancer.

Cervivor has found that many cancer survivors emerge on the other side of the disease ready to tackle life, but often what is waiting for them is an unhealthy lifestyle. Obesity is a known factor for the development of other co-morbid illness, prevalent in cancer survivors such as diabetes and heart disease and can feel like an up hill battle. Survivors regularly struggle with depression, anxiety, motivation, and weight issues that are often intertwined and connected to one another. We see and hear this message consistently and decided to do something about it.

In January 2018, Cervivor re-launched a project called “Survivor Slimdown.” Survivor Slimdown is an online group aimed to support ALL CANCER survivors in their fight to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle after a cancer diagnosis. While we are a “slimdown” group, we aim to address and support all survivors and recognize the connection of mind, body, and spirit. We currently have 70 members engaged in our private online group, led by cancer survivors Patti Murillo-Casa and Holly Lawson.

Patti Murillo-Casa, Survivor Slimdown admin AND in-house fitness guru.
Holly Lawson, Survivor Slimdown admin, finishing her first post-cancer 5k.

Patti is a retired New York City police officer turned fitness guru. After her battle with cancer, she lost over 100 lbs! She is a Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Senior Fitness Specialist, Pound Pro Instructor, and Spinning Instructor just to name a few. Patti assists in the administration of our online group, ensuring information being shared is safe, accurate, and cutting edge. Holly had just completed her 4th half marathon when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2016. She had extensive complications from treatment that left her inactive for two years. Holly is determined to regain her health and fitness. She and Patti pack a power punch. They love leading the Slimdown group as active participants on the constant journey of health.

Survivor Slimdown provides daily motivation with “Fit Tips” and regular challenges, to keep members engaged and motivated. The group is constantly sharing recipes and tips for living a balanced lifestyle. However, it truly is the spirit of our survivors that makes the group so dynamic. Survivors understand one another and can encourage one another in the quest for health in ways others simply cannot.

Here’s what participants are saying about Survivor Slimdown:

Survivors keeping one another motivated and challenged! They understand!

“I love that we are all in this journey together even though we may be at different levels of fitness or at different stages in our health or Survivorship, we come together in this group. We all encourage each other, laugh about our misadventures, and “celebrate our victories.” Maria Franklin

This brings motivation to me without judgement and constant nagging!” Kristine Sprigler

“The Fit Tips are my fav! All the positive posts really keep me going and inspire me to ‘pay the motivation forward’. My physical and spiritual self-feel energized.” Carol Lacey

“I like the realistic goals & suggestions, along with the consistent positive encouragement are such a breath of fresh air and help me stay on goal.” Sarah Nielson

“The daily posts, the recipe suggestions, encouragement from everyone keep me motivated.” Paulette Apostolou

Survivor Slimdown participants are staying active with everything from walking, running, personal trainers, sparing, and water aerobics!

“The positive attitudes of the members and the constant encouragement of each member to push and support the rest of the group through all obstacles, has been one of the biggest reasons I love this group.”  Scott Courville

Do you find yourself feeling stuck and unmotivated to be active and live healthfully? Do you want to be on this journey with people who get you? Would you love to have accountability, recipe sharing, daily Fit Tips, and regular challenges for yourself? If this is you, we invite you to join us. We welcome all cancer survivors, male or female-no matter what the diagnosis, to join our online group. We understand cancer survivors, we understand finding your way in Survivorship, and we understand the desire to live a healthy balanced life after cancer. Come join us in Survivor Slimdown!

Click here to join Survivor Slimdown!

Statistics retrieved from https://cancercontrol.cancer.gov/ocs/statistics/statistics.html

Faith Over Fear

Today marks 17 years since I heard those words, “You have cancer“.  It has taken a lot for me to not be held hostage by cancer. You spend so much time fighting to survive and then the rest hoping, wishing and praying that it won’t come back. It’s like constantly living on the edge of a nonstop roller coaster. I got off of the roller coaster a few years ago and have been living my life beyond my cancer. I know that is not easy, but it is something that I truly strive for in my life. But, recently, I was taken right back to that moment in time when I was a scared 25-year-old.

Pre Op before the waterworks.

Two weeks ago I went for my annual well woman’s visit. You know, the one I constantly talk about because I’m a cervical cancer survivor. I honestly probably would have taken longer to make the appointment, but there was this issue with blood and it made me nervous. Anytime there is blood, is a reason to be seen. Especially, given my history and that my father died of colon cancer. So, I called and made an appointment and asked for their first available. My primary care physician recently retired and I also needed a new OB/GYN. So there was the added stress of not having a prior relationship. Oh, the excuses we will make… But this is not what I had in mind. I didn’t even do any research. I just needed to see someone. I was lucky that they saw me pretty quickly.  During my exam, with my feet in the stirrups; the Nurse Practitioner saw something. She called for a physician to come and take another look. As if I wasn’t anxious enough. There was a nodule of some sort and even though they didn’t think that it was cancerous, they needed to know for sure — given my history of course. So, I needed a biopsy. Nodule. Biopsy. Suspicious. All words that reminded me of when I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I’d be lying if I said, “I was fine and took the news like a champ”. In that moment, I was terrified that the cancer had returned. In my head, “to finish what it had started“. I found myself overcome with fear and my faith nowhere in sight. This is a very human response. PTSD. It is cancer trauma. I haven’t been put under since my diagnosis and that triggered so many emotions for me. I wasn’t prepared for that. Let alone the emotions that ran through me as I was wheeled in the operating room. I was scared.

Cancer is scary. So much so that my blood pressure was through the roof. Just the thought of having to deal with cancer again was enough to have me in the fetal position. But just as I had done 17 years prior, I reminded myself that I wasn’t done yet. That if it were cancer, that I would fight to rid it again with everything that I had. Because I am not built to quit. Thank you cancer scare for that reminder.

So here I am less than a week post-op. My coochie feels like 2 bees are taking turns stinging it. But it could be worse. 17 years ago it felt like a hammer.  The waiting sucks. I have no patience at all, and I want to know my pathology reports now. But I have to wait. So, I’m healing and slowly easing back into what I do best. Living my best life beyond cancer.

My sister recently reminded me, “Faith Over Fear“.  When I find myself feeling overwhelmed I remind myself of that. I don’t want to let cancer, or even the possiblity of it control me. Here’s to celebrating 17 years cancer free and 17 more. FU cancer!

Also, let this serve as your reminder to schedule your well woman exam, vaccinate those under 26 (especially 11 & 12 year olds). Check your boobies, booty and skin too. Check everything. You’re welcome! 🙂

Tamika Felder is  is the Chief Visionary at Cervivor. Newsweek Magazine featured her on the cover and named her a “Cancer Rebel”. Tamika is a highly sought-after speaker and is the author of Seriously, What Are You Waiting For? 13 Actions To Ignite Your Life & Achieve The Ultimate Comeback.  Tamika’s inspiring story has been featured in numerous media outlets around the globe. Tamika has served as a community representative for the President’s Cancer Panel (2003), and is a former board member of the Ulman Cancer Foundation for Young Adults. She served as a patient advocate member of the Gynecological Oncology Group and the National Cancer Institute’s Gynecologic Cancer Steering Committee- Cervical Task Force. She is also a former member of the District of Columbia’s Cancer Plan’s Gynecological Cancer Committee and the Maryland Cancer Plan’s Cervical Cancer Committee. Tamika currently serves on the board of the Global Coalition Against Cervical Cancer, the advisory council for the Alliance for Fertility Preservation, and as an expert panel member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Stratified Cervical Cancer Primary Prevention Guideline Panel. She was recently appointed to the National HPV Vaccination Roundtable’s Steering Committee. Tamika is making her survivorship count.