Tamika Felder is my friend, colleague, mentor and union sister. She is also one of the most inspiring women I have ever met, given her ability to look adversity in the eye, and to keep on fighting. Always with a smile on her face. And with an ability to support others and rally them behind her. Yes, Tamika is That Woman to me.
Tamika, of Upper Marlboro, MD, was diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer in May 2001 at age 25, just as her career in broadcast journalism was taking off. Shortly afterwards, she endured a radical hysterectomy, and weeks of painful chemotherapy and radiation. She beat the cancer, but was left physically and emotionally devastated. She was particularly crushed about not being able to bear her own children, something she had always dreamed of.
Rather than allow herself self-pity, she decided to keep fighting this disease that affects more than 11,000 women and kills more than 4,000 women in our country each year. She wanted to use her experience to help educate other women about how to prevent cervical cancer, which is almost always preventable, and to assist other women going through treatment.
In January 2005, Tamika founded Tamika and Friends, Inc. (www.tamikaandfriends.org), a non-profit organization that raises awareness about cervical cancer and its prevention through a network of survivors and their friends. She uses creative communication to educate women about cervical cancer and its cause (the human papillomavirus, or HPV), as well as ways to prevent it (the Pap test, the HPV test and the HPV vaccine).
Her group’s signature events are called ”House Parties of fiVe” – social gatherings in which friends mix “girl talk” with lessons/games to help women become more comfortable discussing this cancer that occurs “down there.” This May, TAF held its fourth annual Walk to Beat The Clock! event in DC to raise awareness about cervical cancer and funds to help cervical cancer survivors. and cervical cancer survivors.
Since early 2009, Tamika and Friends has served as the lead partner of The Pearl of Wisdom Campaign to Eliminate Cervical Cancer (www.PearlofWisdom.us), a global effort to raise awareness of the opportunities now available to prevent cervical cancer. Other partners include Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the American Medical Women’s Association, the Coalition of Labor Union Women and the National Council of Women’s Organizations.
Tamika’s title at TAF is CEO, however, her work for the organization is something that she does in her “spare time,” as her real job is as a television producer and correspondent in the Office of Cable Television, Office of the Mayor of Washington, DC.
Tamika’s story and message have been featured in numerous media outlets, including Glamour magazine. She serves as the survivor spokesperson for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and was selected in 2003 by the White House to be a Community Representative for the President’s Cancer Panel.
In 2010, on behalf of TAF, Tamika led the first-ever “Cervical Cancer Day on the Hill.” She brought cervical cancer activists to Washington, D.C., to meet with their elected representatives to raise awareness about cervical cancer and ultimately help encourage continued funding for cervical cancer prevention programs, particularly for underserved women.
The video submitted here provides an overview of the recent “Cervical Cancer Day on the Hill” event:http://www.goiam.org/index.php/news/latest-videos/6822-talk-loud-talk-proud
Despite all of her accomplishments “on paper,” what is most impressive about Tamika is her ability to connect with and always find the time to help others, particularly women who are or have been affected by cervical cancer.
I have known Tamika since she founded Tamika & Friends. We bonded immediately (something that happens often when people meet Tamika). We made plans to work together, which we continue to do today.
In short, I am in awe of Tamika Felder. To me she is the embodiment of the “Be That Woman Award!”