Every year, more than 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer. In 2001, 25-year old Tamika Felder was one of those women.
Tamika successfully beat the cancer with the help of her doctors and friends but wanted to help other women who were in her situation. Shortly thereafter, she founded the organization Tamika & Friends to inform women about cervical cancer and the human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes more than 70% of cervical cancers. This is important because, “Cervical cancer is something that can affect any woman,” says Tamika.
One of the ways that Tamika & Friends educates women is through House Parties of fiVe. These events inform women through games such as HPV Bingo and Pictionary of the female reproductive system “because if you don’t know where your cervix is you can’t talk about cervical cancer,” states Tamika. The women who host the HPV events “pick a theme and have such a good time that sometimes we forget that we are educating people,” she says.
While the group is open to women of all ages, Tamika is very committed to promoting oncofertility after losing her own fertility due to cancer treatment. “To this day that is the hardest thing, knowing that I can never create life,” she says. Since money often determines whether a woman can afford fertility preservation, Tamika & Friends is working to provide financial aid for fertility preservation by developing a Gift of Life program.
Through their events and hotline, Tamika & Friends helps women at all stages in their journey understand the options available to them. “It is not just about losing your life, it is about the quality of life after cancer,” Tamika says.
On September 25, Tamika & Friends is having an awareness walk in New York City. Find more about the Walk to Beat the Clock!