Cervical Cancer Survivor’s Dream of Becoming a Mom Comes True Thanks to Strangers
Cervical cancer survivor Tamika Felder’s path to parenthood came true thanks to a series of generous acts from people she’d never met in person — including a couple who donated frozen embryos and a fertility expert who secured free services. More than a year after the “kindness train” began, Felder says, her son Chayton was born.
Gazing into her newborn’s big blue eyes for the first time after his Nov. 21 birth, Felder, 47, experienced a flurry of emotions. “He was 8 lbs. 2 oz. of love. I couldn’t believe how much hair he had. I was also in shock that he was mine.” As the baby clenched her finger with his tiny hand, she recalls, “I knew that I would do my best to give him my best.”
It’s a moment Felder, of Upper Marlboro, Md., had been anticipating since she was a little girl. “I’d write baby names in journals and talk about what those babies would be like,” she says.
As an adult, though, she focused on her career as a TV producer in Washington, D.C., confident that her journey to parenthood would begin in due time. “I was very happy with my life,” she says. “I wasn’t in a rush.”
Then, at just 25 years old, Felder received “soul-crushing” news from her doctor: she had cervical cancer and would need a lifesaving radical hysterectomy, making childbirth near impossible. “I never thought that the choice to have children would be taken away from me,” she says.
Felder explored fertility preservation options in the weeks before her hysterectomy in 2001, but “ultimately the insurance wouldn’t cover it, and we just ran out of time,” she says.
Felder underwent chemotherapy and radiation to go into remission but her fertility loss caused her pain for decades. As friends started having children, Felder found herself having “to go through endless baby showers and act like I was okay,” she says. Even though she was excited for her friends, she was “truly devastated for me.”