WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- Tamika Felder came from a large family: her mom was one of twenty one and her dad one of seven. So even at a young age Tamika knew she wanted to add to that tradition. When doctors told her at age 25 she had cervical cancer and would need a hysterectomy to live, she was devastated.
"She said, 'Now sweetie let's talk about your pap.' She told me I had carcinoma in situ. I didn't know what in situ was but I knew carcinoma meant cancer and like that my life changed," Tamika told us.
After many second opinions, she had a hysterectomy and under went chemotherapy and radiation.
To help herself heal, Tamika reached out to others. She founded Tamika and Friends, a non-profit organization that supports women battling cervical cancer and also educates on prevention, including the all important yearly pap smear that looks for any abnormal cells.
Cervical cancer is caused by the human papilloma virus, or HPV. It is sexually transmitted and causes no symptoms. It is often a topic hard for women to talk about, but Tamika and Friends launched "HPV parties" as a way for women open up and share their questions and concerns.
"We put the fun in cancer," Tamika said. "But we are learning, and they have the tools so that when they go to the doctor's office and they go get their pap, they're in charge."
Women like Patrice Johnson from Washington, DC, attended one of the parties: "I think a setting like this with a group of women, it causes you to be a little more relaxed .You are speaking with other women speaking candidly, and I think it will help women to not view the subject as something that is taboo."
The subject is especially not taboo now that there's a vaccine against HPV that can prevent many cases of cervical cancer.
Tamika also said, "It is not about detecting it, it is about preventing it so they never have to go through what I had to go through because I wouldn't give this to my worst enemy."
Tamika and Friends has HPV Party kits for anyone who wants to host their own party with a purpose.