I Survived Cervical Cancer

Lack of insurance and infrequent Pap smears led to a scary diagnosis.

Posted: 11/27/2013 01:27 PM EST

“April 12, 2001. My life changed forever,” says Tamika Felder Campbell, 38, of the day she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. “In hindsight, it’s the day I became a survivor.”

Prior to that date, Felder Campbell, a South Carolina native, thought she was living her best life ever. “I was a young woman living in D.C. Career-wise I was doing exactly what I wanted. I was having a ball. I was living—what I thought—was life to the fullest.”

At 25, Felder Campbell took a part-time job in her field, covering the 2000 presidential election. The pay was, she says, “crap” and the job came without health benefits. “But I loved every single second of it.”

Then, coming home from New Hampshire primaries, Felder Campbell found a knot under her arm. It turned out to be a boil, which had nothing to do with her diagnosis, but if not for that boil, she wouldn’t have gone to the emergency facility. The doctor asked her about her last physical, and then referred Felder Campbell to his wife.

“I’m a fabulous woman,” she says. “But if you’re overweight, they treat you differently. I had a bad experience once where the doctor was more concerned with my weight than the Pap smear. And let’s face it, Pap smears aren’t fun.” She grudgingly went through with the appointment.

When Felder Campbell returned two weeks later for her results, she thought she’d hear more about needing to lose weight. Instead, the doctor said, “‘Let’s talk about your Pap test.’ She told me I had what looked to be cancer,” says says. “They wanted to do treatment immediately, which scared the hell out of me.”

A week before her 26th birthday, Felder Campbell had a radical hysterectomy. Radition (five days a week for three months) and chemo (1 day a week for three months) followed.

Read more about how Tameka Felder Campbell’ survived cervical cancer at BlackHealthMatters.Com.

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(Photo: GettyImages)

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