When she was just 25 years old, Tamika Felder was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She faced chemotherapy and radiation and surgery to remove her cervix and uterus, along with unsupportive judgment some people showed toward her cancer diagnosis, which was linked to a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Felder founded Cervivor, a global community of patient advocates who organize to increase access to education about cervical cancer, influence decision-makers, and create change in an effort to end cervical cancer. Felder also hosts the organization’s monthly podcast.
“This podcast was started out of a need to share our stories. Not only because of the stigma of HPV that is associated with cervical cancer, but for those who think cervical cancer is an easy cancer,” Felder says.
According to the CDC, 90 percent of cervical cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), and nearly all cervical cancer can be prevented by the HPV vaccination. A combination of the vaccine and screenings make cervical cancer one of the most preventable types of cancer — but not everyone knows this. Felder hopes that by creating a network of advocates around the world, Cervivor will be able to help people understand how they can prevent and even eliminate cervical cancer.
The Cervivor Podcast is for cancer thrivers, clinicians, and even people who haven’t been impacted by the disease.
“For patients, I hope they feel supported and seen. For clinicians, I hope that it helps them better serve patients. For the general audience, I hope it spreads awareness and leads to understanding and empathy, as well as increased HPV vaccinations and cervical cancer screenings,” says Felder.
The archives are filled with the kind information people with a cervical cancer diagnosis may not even be aware they need. The first episode, “Dry Panties, Depends, and Urine. What Does This Have to Do With Cervical Cancer?!” is a great example. But where the podcast really shines is with its thriver stories.
“There is considerable loss and trauma with any chronic illness. With cervical cancer some of the top issues are sexual dysfunction and loss of fertility. That plays not only into the physical issues of a cervical cancer diagnosis, but the emotional well-being of patients as well. Sharing these stories via the podcast provides an additional layer of community, support, and resource sharing,” says Felder. “It’s a reminder that you are not alone.”
Where to start Felder recommends season 1 episode 5: “Acceptance of Death: How She Is Making Her Story Matter, With Guest Lisa Moore.” “What seems like a difficult episode to listen to is truly empowering and inspirational,” she says.
Moore recorded the interview four months before cervical cancer took her life.
“She knew she was dying. There was no miracle happening, and she had accepted that. To this day I am still in awe of her vulnerability. She didn’t have to share in that way, but she wanted to. She wanted people to know what cervical cancer had not only done to her but taken away from her,” says Felder.
In a video, Moore, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer at age 26, tells Cervivor, “If I can help someone else from going through this, that’s the best I have to offer.”