Survivor Urges Women to Test for Cervical Cancer

Tamika Felder

In commemoration of cervical cancer awareness month, survivor and advocate Tamika Felder spoke recently spoke In the Bay Area, sharing her personal battle with cervical cancer and encouraging the public to help eradicate the disease.
“As a woman who battled and survived cervical cancer, the single most important thing I can advise African-American women to do is get screened,” said Felder, in a talk to employees of the multinational healthcare company Roche Diagnostics in Pleasanton.
“Especially, know if you have the high-risk strains of HPV including HPV 16 and 18, because those are the strains that cause the majority of cervical cancer.”
At the age of 25 Felder got the shock of her life – she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Without warning, her world changed. Felder, who was working as a successful television producer in Washington, DC, went from enjoying life to worrying about the end of her life.
She underwent a radical hysterectomy and endured subsequent chemotherapy and radiation treatments. But Felder was fortunate – she was diagnosed early enough to battle the disease, and she beat it.
“In the U.S., more than 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer annually, said Felder. “African-American women develop cervical cancer about 50 percent more often than non-Hispanic white women and are more than twice as likely to die from it.”
Despite the terrifying statistics, cervical cancer is easily preventable with proper education and early screening. To put it in perspective, 6 in 10 cervical cancers occur in women who have NEVER received a Pap test or have NOT been tested in the past five years.
That is why Felder in 2005 founded a national advocacy group, Tamika & Friends, Inc. The organization provides numerous resources for cervical cancer patients, survivors and their caretakers.
Felder’s message is clear: “Talk to your doctor and make sure you know about your HPV 16 and 18 risk.  It just may help save your life.”
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