A woman diagnosed with cancer, and refused help from her insurance company, will welcome a longed-for baby this Autumn all thanks to the help of a fellow survivor
Tamika Felder was devastated when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of just 25.
She told Insider: “If you’re diagnosed with cancer, the bottom falls out of your world.”
She knew that any treatment would render her infertile so started looking at her fertility options. Tamika discovered there was a chance she could freeze her eggs, but her health insurance would not foot the cost.
She was devastated to realise her dreams of becoming a mother were slipping away.
She said: “It felt as if I’d lost everything that I thought made me a woman.”
Just days later, Tamika had a hysterectomy and started chemotherapy and radiation.
In 2005, she founded Cervivor; a non-profit organisation that raises awareness and offers support to prevent and educate people to get regular pap tests and the HPV vaccine.
It also campaigns to get insurance companies to cover at least some of the costs of fertility preservation, which Felder had been denied just before her cancer treatment began.
Tamika met and married 44-year-old Rocky Campbell and they both knew they wanted to be parents, but they did not know how they were going to accomplish it.
In 2020, Tamika met Ginny Marable at an online seminar. The pair started chatting privately and soon became friends.
Ginny had received her cervical cancer diagnosis in 2017. She told how she had successfully undergone IVF treatment and created several embryos.
Ginny said: “I was very moved by Tamika’s story. She wasn’t given the choice to preserve her fertility.”
Ginny married her boyfriend, Sean, in November 2018 and was delighted to start the process of embryo transfer soon after.
The couple’s embryo split and they welcomed gestational twins in March 2021. But they still had four more embryos and wondered what they might do with them. It was then that they discussed helping Tamika and Rocky become parents by donating their embryos.
Tamika said: “It was the most personal and beautiful gift I had ever been given.
“At that moment, I never felt more loved.”
Their next hurdle was trying to find $150,000 to fund the services of a surrogate
Luckily, children’s author, Stephanie Levich, helped them arrange a pro bono surrogacy through her firm, Family Matching Consulting, and her business associates. A surrogate is now three months pregnant and is due to give birth in the Autumn.
Tamika said: “I can finally see myself with this adorable baby in my arms.
“Ginny and I have been through a lot together. But it is because of our cancer that we have made a miracle.”
Study finds that funding is lacking for fertility services for childhood cancer survivors
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