21 Years of Cervivorship

Today, we’re celebrating a special edition of #TealandWhiteTuesday. Our Founder and Chief Visionary, Tamika Felder is celebrating 21 years of Cervivorship!

Tamika was just 25 years old when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer on April 12, 2001. She endured a hysterectomy stripping her of her fertility, followed by chemotherapy, and radiation. Cervical cancer changed her life forever. 

In 2005, she started Tamika & Friends, Inc. a nonprofit dedicated to cervical cancer survivors and their friends and family. At the time there truly wasn’t any support for cancer survivors and the Internet was just getting off the ground. Tamika needed support. She found the more she told her story, the more it reached other women. Tamika wanted to help empower others to share their stories and that’s how Cervivor was born!

But Tamika didn’t stop there. She understood her calling of living her life beyond a cervical cancer diagnosis. Over the years, she has continued to transform the lives of each person impacted by a cervical cancer diagnosis. Tamika not only empowers them to use their voice, but she teaches them that their pain can have purpose, and they have the power to create change.  

Here are a few things she’s learned as she looks back on her experience with cancer:

  • I was a survivor from the onset of my diagnosis. Each day is survivorship. Sure, there are huge milestones. The first year, the magical number 5. But what matters is each day is another day from the one before. 
  • No matter your faith (or lack thereof) cancer is scary. And it’s okay to be scared. 
  • We all get by with a little help (or really a lot) when it comes to cancer from our friends/family. 
  • You won’t ever be the same. As with any traumatic experience you are forever changed.
  • Accepting that cancer has changed you and living in the “new normal” means that you can move forward. Even if it’s at a slower pace. 
  • Life is meant to be lived. And it doesn’t matter how much time. Sure, I’ve never be told that there is nothing left but what I’ve learned from others who have is that you have to live while you have life within you. 
  • Surviving cancer doesn’t mean you have to live in a bubble. It also doesn’t mean you have to become a daredevil. 
  • Surviving means living. 

Tamika has dedicated her life to cancer advocacy from eliminating the stigma of the human papillomavirus (HPV) (and being deemed a “Cancer Rebel” by Newsweek), to training patient advocates to share their stories, and to eliminating the healthcare disparities within communities of color.

“My greatest lesson is that life comes with an expiration date — from cancer or otherwise. It matters what we do with our time here. Life continues to surprise me. I was diagnosed with cancer when I was 25. I’ll be 47 this year and life is still surprising me in the best way possible. I don’t know how many years I have left, but what I can tell you is that I am going to live in a way that says I survived cancer.”

– Tamika Felder, Founder and Chief Visionary, Cervivor


This is only a small fraction of what Tamika has accomplished since she began her journey with cervical cancer and we couldn’t be more grateful for her resilience and leadership to create the community we now know as Cervivor. Thank you, Tamika!

Join us in celebrating Tamika’s 21 years of Cervivorship by:
1. Start living life for YOU. Don’t wait until something traumatic happens to start living life.
2. Vote for Becky’s video. People die of cancer. I’m blessed to still be here. 
3. Donate $21 to Cervivor.
4. Schedule your cervical cancer screening.
5. Vaccinate your children and protect them from HPV-related cancers.

What Is Knowledge?

Knowledge is ________.  

You fill in the blank! 

You can always go with the first word that likely pops into your mind – POWER – but I encourage you to think outside the box a bit and go with something different…for now…

Here’s what comes up for me!

Knowledge is CONNECTION.

Anyone who is involved with Cervivor knows that connection is a huge part of “who we are.”  It is through our shared experiences that we connect via social media, Cervivor events, and relationships.  This connection is rooted not only in experience but also in the knowledge of those experiences and the important information that we come to learn because of it all.  Information about HPV, cervical cancer, prevention.  Information that, combined with connection, tends to result in “power by numbers” as a collective force of advocacy and change.  

Which leads me to my next word…

Knowledge is ACTION.

I’ve seen it happen a lot – and it’s so exciting to witness.  Once people have reliable and important information, they usually can’t help but DO something. Knowledge spurs action in some way or another.  Whether it is action for self by scheduling exams or staying on top of screening, action for others by encouraging friends and family or sharing information, or action for the cause and greater good by sharing personal stories as an advocate and impacting change in the HPV and cervical cancer space. At Cervivor, we see this continually in our patient advocates – working hard to take the information they have to “go and do” and make an impact in so many ways. 

Knowledge is PREVENTION.

Whether you’re a cervical cancer patient/survivor or not – being armed with important knowledge about HPV and cervical cancer can ultimately lead to prevention and help towards eliminating this disease that we now know is preventable.  Knowing what causes cervical cancer, being up-to-date on current screening guidelines and practices, being informed about vaccination all affect the impact that this disease can have.  When we’re informed, we can advocate for our own preventative health or that of a loved one.  When we’re informed, we know what to look for and ask for at the physician’s office.  When we’re informed, we can make decisions to reduce disease.  When we’re informed we know the importance of prevention.  

So now, I’ll circle back to the one “go-to” word that fills in that blank…

Knowledge is POWER.  

Knowledge does lead to connection, action, and prevention – but all of those add up to POWER.  Power that can save lives and impact change. As patient advocates, this informed power is a driving force of what we do, how we lead, and the change we make at Cervivor.  

I’ve seen this power firsthand at Cervivor School – one of our main outreach programs that educates and trains cervical cancer patients and survivors to become patient advocates.  It’s wonderful to witness so many at Cervivor School realize the impact they can have as we empower them with information and support. As patients and survivors, they realize the unique platform and influence they have. That combined with relevant information, their personal stories are perhaps the most potent force they hold.  

Your turn!  Knowledge is ___________.

Heather Banks is Cervivor’s Lead Advocacy Educator and recipient of the 2016 Cervivor Champion Award. As a 13-year cervical cancer survivor, she is an active advocate for HPV and cervical cancer awareness and prevention. Heather’s advocacy efforts have included testifying to the FDA in 2013 for co-testing efforts, speaking to government representatives in DC, and becoming a member of Cervivor’s Leadership Team. Heather lives in Indianapolis, Indiana where she is an Instructional Coach and Specialist at the elementary level. She loves spending time with her husband and two children; ages 16 and 13.