In every person’s life, there’s a woman who made a difference. It could be your mother, your sister, a friend, a mentor, a teacher, a coach, or even a total stranger who inspired you in some way.

Who is that woman for you?

Be That Woman is the place to tell her story. Share it with others.
And hopefully, inspire women everywhere to be like her.

Simply nominate the woman you’d like to honor, and tell her story through words, pictures, audio, and video. Stories will be shared and voted on within our community. The most inspirational story will win the first annual Be That Woman Award and be featured at our annual fundraising luncheon and in the local media.

Tamika Felder

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!”

Posted by Carolyn Jacobson

I Miss you Sis

 Kimberlly ThomasKimberlly Renee Thomas was a single mother of two amazing children who were the light of her life.  An aspiring chef, Kim worked a variety of different jobs trying to support her family setting aside whatever was left over in the hopes of one day going to culinary school.

At age 29, Kim found a lump underneath her arm.  With the long history of breast cancer in her family, she thought it might be worth looking into but, with no health insurance, she figured she was probably too young for it to really be anything to worry about.  She didn’t share the news.

Several months passed and the lump started to become painful.  Kim also noticed that it had grown.  Although she had gotten a job with health benefits, they didn’t take effect until 90 days.  She’d heard about pre-existing conditions so she wasn’t sure if she should go to a free clinic.  Fortunately, I was in town to run in the October 2006 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.  The night before the race, Kim mentioned the lump.  Immediately concerned, I called the rest of the family.

Fortunately, Kim’s 90-day point was only a couple of days later.  The breast exam, the mammogram and the biopsy happened in quick succession.  The walk to the doctor’s office was almost unbearable.  Then came the news that would change the lives of so many in unimaginable ways.  Breast Cancer, Stage II.

Since Kim was so young, aggressive treatment was deemed most appropriate. Her oncologist decided on two cocktails of chemotherapy, a course of treatment that would last 24 weeks.  By Christmas 2006, she’d lost all of her hair.

The next few weeks didn’t change much in Kim’s eyes.  She still had two kids to take care of and a ton of bills to pay.  Other than chemotherapy treatments and booster shots, Kim didn’t slow down one tiny bit, despite her doctor’s recommendations. 

The first cocktail seemed to be working.  The lump was shrinking and the doctors were optimistic.  The second cocktail, however, seemed to have the opposite effect.  Her lump began to get bigger and health was slowly deteriorating.  The chemo wasn’t working.

A unilateral mastectomy was the next course of action.  A biopsy of the lump revealed a term we would never forget. 

“It’s called Triple Negative Breast Cancer.  We think we got it all but…it’s aggressive.  It’s the most aggressive.  It’s…the most fatal.”

The doctors decided to do a round of radiation just to be sure.  After three months of radiation and a PET scan that was “all clear”, Kim was out of the woods and a sigh of relief ran through our entire family.  It was August 2007 and it was finally starting to feel like summer.

While in the middle of radiation, Kim was called into Human Resources office.  “We’re going to have to let you go.  You’re costing too much in health insurance,” she was told.  After working tirelessly night after night, 12-14 hours on her feet, Kim decided it was time to take a break.  She decided to move back to El Paso, Texas where she’d grown up.  Always the workaholic, it didn’t take long for her to become restless.  She felt that she was given a second chance at life. It was time to make a move.  After years of putting it off, she finally enrolled in school.

Born to cook, Kim started getting excited for one of her favorite holidays, Thanksgiving.  She started having difficulty with simple tasks like writing her name and thinking of words she used on a regular basis.  Soon, the migraines came and vomiting followed.  Worry set in and it was back to the doctor.

"I don’t really know how the tell you this.  Your cancer is back.  It’s spread.  It’s on your liver, your lungs and your brain.  It’s Stage IV…we’ll try to buy you some time.  You probably have somewhere between 6-18 months." 

It was December 11, 2007.  It was the day of the first ever Triple Negative Breast Cancer Symposium. 

Daily treatments of radiation, a course of chemotherapy and a strong will to fight were not enough to win her battle with breast cancer.  We lost our Kimmy on February 29, 2008.  Her 32nd birthday was the next day.

Throughout her life, Kim was known for a smile that could knock you off your feet and the most infectious laugh ever heard.  Kimberlly’s kids, Tiffany and Malcolm, were the light of her life and now light up mine every day.  In a way I’m sure she couldn’t even imagine, she’s challenged us to become a stronger family, full of fight and full of love. 

Being unable to help her was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.  But watching her fight, and surprisingly, even watching her let go, taught me invaluable lessons for my life.  My big sister is “that woman” for me. 

"That woman" who knows strength beyond our natural human ability.

"That woman" whose death somehow gave us a life we’d otherwise never know.

My big sister Kim - that’s my girl.

Posted by Naomi Porterfield

Joyce Lane Janke Is That Woman!

My mother—Joyce Lane Janke, retired teacher, reading specialist, principal and school system administrator and a pillar of strength to everyone she has touched—Is That Woman! 

Posted by bethatwoman

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Posted by Bill Brower

Since our founding in 1998, Washington Area Women’s Foundation has been building stronger communities by investing in the power of women and girls. So far, The Women’s Foundation has helped improve the lives of 300,000 women and girls in our region. We support efforts to create self-sufficient women and girls, thriving communities, more women philanthropists and greater connections to each other.

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