The Power of Community and an Exceptional Gift

⚠️ This content may be triggering for some. Includes infertility and pregnancy. ⚠️

Dearest Cervivor Community,

Happy Survivorship Month! No matter where you land, it’s a reason to celebrate. Even if you’re just celebrating today. We all get so caught up in milestones. It’s hard not to. Comparisons are everywhere and we all just want so much more time. But what I’ve learned over the years is that each new day is really the greatest gift. One day at a time.

Beyond National Cancer Survivor Month, I’ve got a bunch of reasons to celebrate. June is also my birthday month (yay for birthdays!), and today marks the anniversary of my radical hysterectomy at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland.

Twenty-one years! I remember when the hospital called to confirm my surgery. I was 25 years old, shocked and terrified that I wouldn’t get to see my 26th birthday. I pleaded with the scheduling coordinator to schedule surgery after my birthday. I thought, if this was it, I was at least going to celebrate one last time. But I didn’t get my way. My radical hysterectomy to rid my body of the cervical cancer tumor that was taking over was scheduled for June 14, 2001, at 7 am. I walked myself into the operating room, got up on the table, and woke up hours later – forever changed, both physically and mentally.

I didn’t know then how my own diagnosis with cervical cancer would play a role in my own life, as well as the lives of others. I couldn’t even imagine my current role as a patient advocate, and leader in the cervical cancer patient advocacy space. It certainly wasn’t a goal of mine, but I just created what I wished I’d had. This “work” has been life-changing, fulfilling, difficult, triggering, and yet one of the greatest joys of my life. I’m proud of what we’ve built together as a community. My dedication to our cause is greater than ever before.

The last few years have been challenging to say the least. We’ve weathered so much together, and now we can include an ongoing pandemic to that list. During the pandemic we kept the community going with virtual events. In fact, it was during one of those virtual events that I met someone so very special from our community, Ginny Marable.

Ginny joined us for several events and was even a speaker at our September 2020 Cervical Cancer Summit. While I was learning more about Ginny, unbeknownst to me, she was also learning more about me. She saw my true desire to be a mom, and the heartbreak that it would probably never happen due to my hysterectomy.

Fast forward: Ginny and her husband Sean began their path to parenthood via a gestational carrier. She shared their beautiful journey with us as a community, as well as on social media. When her twin boys were born, I was so elated for them, but if I’m honest, I also felt that familiar ping that I would never experience that moment. But I was just so happy for her, that feeling of sadness was fleeting.

Another short fast forward: Ginny reached out to me for a phone conversation. Never in my wildest dreams could I have known how that call would have changed my life. I mean, I haven’t even met Ginny in person – only through our virtual space. So, I’d like to make June even more memorable by sharing with my Cervivor community at large that Ginny is giving me an exceptional gift that I never imagined could be bestowed on me – motherhood.

Ginny has simply taken the power and love of this community to an entirely different level. We shared our unique story with Insider and you can read about it here.

My hope is that you will feel all the love, and our “Cervivor Spark”. But simply, thank you, Ginny!

With Love and Gratitude,

Tamika Felder
Chief Visionary, Cervivor, Inc. 
21-year Cervivor
Mom-to-be

The Cervivor Podcast: Season 1 Recap

In anticipation of the Season 2 release, we’re taking a look back on Season 1 of the Cervivor Podcast hosted by our very own Founder and Chief Visionary, Tamika Felder. It was a season where we laughed, cried, and learned from guests during Cervivor School 2017. We give honor and observance to those featured in these podcasts that are no longer with us. To be able to hear their voices, laughter and transparency is a special treat for us. We hope you think so, too.

If you haven’t listened to Season 1 yet, take a moment and do so now – currently available on Anchor.fm, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, Radio Public, and Spotify.

Recap by Episode:

  1. Cervivor’s “Most Enthusiastic” awardee, shares all the things we wanted to know but didn’t want to ask in “Dry Panties, Depends, and Urine. What Does This Have to Do with Cervical Cancer?” Turn the volume all the way up and be proud as you listen to Holly Lawson talk about obstacles during diagnosis.
  2. “Everybody’s voice makes a difference,” says Erica Frazier Stum whose school-aged son knows his mother may be gone sooner than she should be. This podcast episode is a special treat hearing Erica’s voice posthumously who passed away in 2019.
  3. “Education 101: What is Lymphedema?” Heather Banks drops a few jewels around compression undergarments, drainage, swelling, and giving yourself grace when you just … can’t. 
  4. Balancing school, work, her grandmother’s dementia, and an unexpected stage 4 cervical cancer diagnosis, Teolita Rickenbacker says she found her calling amidst an overwhelming period. “It’s nothing wrong with having cervical cancer; it’s nothing wrong with having any kind of cancer. It’s just how you define it.” Listen to “The Will to Live: How Faith Got Her Through a Cancer Diagnosis.”
  5. In “Acceptance of Death: How She is Making Her Story Matter,” Lisa Moore shared her story of diagnosis, kidney failure, and coming to grips that once she passed, her 30-year-old husband would likely start a family with someone else. “I have accepted death. I’m done being stuck, I’m done being treated. I’m ready to just live my life … it’s a different kind of hope.”
  6. The aftermath of a car accident reveals Sierra Thetford has cancer, but despite a six-month prognosis to live, she sought solace in sharing her story and becoming a gym rat. Listen to “Wrecking into Cancer: How the Gym Became Her Refuge.”
  7. Lynn Tromp talks about cervivorship globally and being open to new experiences, “I trusted my medical doctor. He spoke to me with confidence. Even though it was a trial, he spoke to me with confidence,” said Lynn who lives in South Africa. Listen to “Cancer in another country: A Tell-all From South African.”
  8. In “Toxicity in Relationships: Coping with Cancer,” Dr. Ramani Durvasula talks with Tamika Felder about feminism, narcissistic relationships, and convoluted thoughts that we can experience during diagnosis and treatment. 

Season 2 of the Cervivor Podcast is moving past the archives. Join us on Friday, May 13, 2022 for the Season 2 Episode 1 release!

We’ll be welcoming our first guest, Joslyn Chaiprasert-Paguio. Joslyn was diagnosed with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) at the age of 18 and with cervical cancer at the age of 24. She shares her story to encourage women and future generations, like her daughter, to advocate for themselves and make their health a priority. You’ll also hear what else you can expect on this Season of the Cervivor Podcast.

For more Cervivor-related content, check out our award-winning YouTube channel, CervivorTV. Follow Cervivor on all social media platforms and sign up for our newsletter. If you would like to be interviewed for upcoming Cervivor Podcast episodes or to request content or speakers for future episodes, fill out this form or contact us at info@cervivor.org.