Sunday, February 8, 2009

Tia's Way

Happy Monday!

I feel a bit rested. I had a BLAST at B's party (I really needed that!) and now I'm ready to face the week.

My guest today is Priscilla Wiggins. She asked me if she could write a blog to spotlight a cause dear to her heart, and I think this is a worthy read - we all could educate ourselves on this topic. Show her some love and send this to all the women you know :-)

Tia's Way
by Priscilla Wiggins

So now she’s dead.

Yep dead.

All the drugs, all the surgeries – still dead.

All our tears, all our memories – still dead.

One of my dearest friends of 15 years died of cervical cancer on September 25, 2008 at 2:30am. It was senseless, it was stupid, it was hurtful - it is hope. It is hope because I’m determined to make it that way. So like many others who’ve lost a loved one, I’ve worked with her mother to create a foundation, Tia’s Way ( Tia's Way is dedicated to promoting awareness and education about cervical cancer. Another important part of our efforts will be providing assistance for women who are uninsured and under-insured. One trip to CVS to fill prescriptions for Tia was $700 with insurance!

For YEARS Tia was told she had fibroids, when all along cancer was raging inside her body. By the time the cancer was discovered, it had metastasized to her lungs and left hip. So what now... Cancer doesn’t strike 28 year old's right? At least not Stage IV, inoperable, incurable, "you have 6 months to live" cancer. I mean we hear stories all the time about people passing from this horrible disease, but it’s always in Utah or Wisconsin - not in my inner circle. Except this time, it was in my circle and it came hard. Radiation, Chemo, CyberKnife Surgery, Hypercalcemia, Pleural Effusions, DNR. A whole new language we had to learn. Some days she felt like fighting; some days she felt like enough was enough.

For so long we just accepted, “she had fibroids” - all the "what if's." What if we’d pushed for more testing? What if we didn’t just blindly listen to the doctors? What if we’d gotten a second opinion? I can't tell you how many times they sent Tia home just thinking she wanted pain meds when all along she was dying of cancer!

But thinking about the end makes me think about the beginning. Tia was FIERCE! You hear me? Put a pair of heels on that girl and she could walk Naomi Campbell off the runway. She loved clothes and fashion. I could send her to the mall for me, and she would come back with the perfect outfit with matching "this and that" and a way to switch it up for next time! lol. You know that person who is everyone’s best friend? That was Tia. You know that person who is everyone’s big sister? That was Tia.

With all that being said, she was taken to soon. We wanted to be the old chicks at the club together! So the only way to get over the pain has been to pour ourselves into making her fight mean something. I have my own marketing company and totally donated all the design, domain name and server space to make this project work. It's a drop in the bucket compared to what I would like to do.

Did you know that caught early, cervical cancer is completely curable?

This means not another friend, daughter, sister or mother has to die.

Did you know that African American women die of cervical cancer at double that of other races?

These stats are the same for almost every other cancer, shame on us. We are uninsured, under-insured and uneducated on our rights. We have got to get it right and soon.

Did you know that 95% of all cervical cancers start with HPV/genital warts?

This means it’s preventable.

Did you know you can still get genital warts even if you use a condom?

HPV/genital warts is a skin disease, so to put it plainly: when his balls smack your cat trap – that could be some good ole HPV right thur.

So check out the website, learn about cervical cancer, see if the HPV Vaccine is right for you and tell a friend! If any of you are so inclined to purchase something from the Cafepress store, 100% of every penny goes to helping the cause – things like flyers, permit costs for events, helping needy women pay medical bills, etc.

When I first reached out to Brooke, I was gonna do a whole thing on marketing and small business dreams. Then I started writing and this came out. So I hope you all learned something today! If any of you would like more information or are interested in helping, (something as small as putting a post on your blog about it helps us) please contact me at



Brooke said...

Thank you so much for this post Priscilla. So many times we just accept what doctors tell us and not seek second opinions. Tia knew something else was going on with her body and yet the doctors sent her home. That is so sad, because like you said, if the cancer had been caught earlier, maybe she would be here today.

If you feel something is wrong, trust yourself and listen to your body. Keep going to doctors til you're satisfied with the care you receive. Get second and third opinions and don't be afraid to ask your doctor to refer you to another doctor for that opinion. A good doctor will have no problem doing that and won't take offense. If he does, he or she is not the doctor for you. It's your body, your health and your life - take control of it.

Please pass this blog along to all the women who mean the most to you. Thank you Priscilla for bringing awareness to this disease.

Tia sounds like an amazing person. I'm so sorry for your loss, but the work you're doing serves her wonderful memory.

Anonymous said...

Wow Brooke - i just cant thank you enough for allowing me to use your blog to reach your readers.

So cool of you to share!

And while i certainly don't want to be a drag talking about death and what not - I just thought it would be cool to share.

Like I said before my post was gonna be all about marketing and small business etc. and this just came out!!

I hope your readers are able to find something in it to take with them.

Keefe said...

Thank you Priscilla!!!!

Anonymous said...

That was a GREAT post!!! My condolences on your loss!!! This is a very important topic & should definitely be shared with all the women out there. And guys share this post with your girlfriends, wives, mothers & stisters.

Happy Monday!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much Annamaria,

I didn't want to be a downer - but until it hit someone close to me i never knew how much african american women in particular die from a disease that no one has to die from!

Thanks for being open to the message.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry about being a downer. It's better to maybe depress one or two BUT save one or two at the same time! I totally understand my grandmother passed away from cervical cancer too that wasn't detected until it was too late. She hated doctors & avoided further testing until it was inoperable.. SO sisters please don't put off til tomorrow what you can do TODAY! :)

phillygrl said...

excellent, excellent, excellent..sometimes we do not wan tto share b/c of the morbidity of the topic, but sometimes that's exactly the reason to share..I have been hearing lately of too many younger people(younger meaning 35 & under) passing b/c of stuff..hearta attack,,a friend who was 28!, annurisn, as soo as we got out of high school . freind running track, just passed away....freind who was driving in car, just had seizure, passed away..luckily someone was in car with him..he was under cause found..Please everyone, if something is wrong( specifically men, who typically don't want to go to DR.) ..FIND OUT ABOUT IT..better safe than sorry!!...enojy the beautiful is great..go for a hike, a jog, get out of the building for lunch, instead of going right home, take you kids to playground after school...get a book from library & walk home, stop & get ICE CREAM...ok..maybe frozen yogurt.....:-)--even though Im about to embark on p90x Im getting ICE CREAM on wed!!..(that's my snack day!!)

. said...

Thank you, Priscilla!
I’m so sorry for your lost :-(
I know how much Tia meant to you, how close you guys were and from the stories you shared with me, she always sounded like such an amazing person :-)
I will definitely spread the word.

Anonymous said...

Phillygrl - So many have been passing away senselessly lately - so if we can save another through education and awareness or help with prescriptions... its worth it.

Amanda - yes tia was one of my nearest and dearest, gone but not forgotten...


Brooke said...

It’s so sad when we hear of someone dying young. It just seems so unfair. I’ve heard my share of people I went to school with who passed in their 30’s, one in particular very dear to me. Some of their deaths could have been prevented, some not. Sometimes you just never know what’s going on inside your body. BUT, if you feel something or sense something, then DO something. All the “what if’s” in the world can’t get a life back, so avoid the “what if’s” and get busy!

What amazed me was how much her prescriptions were WITH insurance. So those of us WITH insurance still may carry a heavy financial burden. The healthcare/insurance crisis in this country is alarming – isn’t something like 47 million people without healthcare? So keep up with regular physicals and don’t wait to find out if there’s a problem. Preventive health/care can save your life AND help you avoid financial disaster – our lives are priceless.

Anonymous said...

OMG yes her prescriptions were out of this world!

They cover only what they think is needed and in some cases wont cover medicine that is used to fight the cancer.

Some shots are 4k a pop...

the $700 was for pain medicine which is obviously a huge part of her quality of life as she was in terrible pain - and they wouldn't pay for it.

There were times when her doctor would tell her to lie and say she was nauseous just so he could have a reason to admit her so certain procedures and medicines would be covered since she would be in patient.

A damn shame if you ask me.

Brooke said...

That's insanity. Goes to show we can't even afford to get sick. Thank God she had a doctor who cared for her enough to tell her how to get around the system, but the system if shouldn't be that way. I hope we fix it...FAST!

Serena W. said...

Wow this story truly hit home. I had HPV twice and not afraid to say it. I'm an advocate and because I had fantastic doctors they nipped it in the bud! Some women and men don't like to talk about but we HAVE to. Ladies I was only 20 and 26 when it was detected. The first time around it wasn't noted as HPV because we are talking 1995. When research was done that is what it was and thank God for Dr. Musa in Syracuse and Dr. Alembik in Alexandria, VA! The procedures weren't comfortable but the results ended up me being negative of cervical cancer! Amen!

I also have a friend Jackie who runs with me through Team in Training. She is training for a triatholon on behalf of cancer because she is a cervical cancer survivor and she isn't even 30 yet.

Priscilla my sympathy goes out to you and if you wouldn't mind I would love to repost this blog onto my blog and keep spreading the word. Check it out at

Let's do our research, take a loved one to the doctor along with ourselves so we don't have to lose any more. Peace.

Pretty Ricky What Dey Call'em said...

Thanks Priscilla for posting this blog. Awareness is key in our communities. Sad thing is... only women are probably going to respond to this blog. And not to tale away from your cause, but the bigger issue is... in the black community. Early Detection, education, and Awareness can save our peeps from a lot of diseases. Things that can be avoided with simple prevention methods! Even though I'm not looking forward to that colonoscopy (sp?) I know I gotta do it when the time comes. And we need to get the HIV test done on a reg. Especially when we get into a new relationship. F*** It... make it a date and hgave dinner afterwards!!!!

Random Thought... Why is my word verification today... Foop Pimp!! Interesting!

Anonymous said...

Serena - Thanks so much for sharing. I applaud your courage. A simple cryosurgery outpatient could have saved Tia.

But once the Drs saw her history of fibroids the just immediately dismissed her or thought she wanted pain meds.

I have friends who have had pre-cancerous cells removed and even one who had a hysterectomy but they are ALIVE!

Tia went to so many doctors and ER's and she never gave up but by the time a smart doctor at GW hospital in DC found it she was already Stage 4b.

I think its important to know your status. Know if you have a high risk type of HPV and monitor it. Remember you choose your doctor - if they are not being responsive try a new one.

Anonymous said...

Ricky - You are so right it mainly will be women who read it and respond but thats okay because above all else we have to be responsible for ourselves.

But the men who dont pass it on will lose a friend, sister, wife etc...

Anonymous said...

Serena - Sure - please post it on your blog. Id be honored!

Serena W. said...

You are welcome Priscilla! Look out for it tomorrow or Wednesday on my blog. I'm so happy for the cyrosurgery but in 1995 the only option was laser and that wasn't cute. My mother took the train to Syracuse to be with me and was in the room during the procedure. I was so scared and angry all at the same time. When I asked my partner at that time to get tested he got defensive...needless to say ending in a break up.

But would I do it all over again if detected, hell yes. I'm hear today and I'm sorry about Tia. GW is an excellent hospital in DC, I know we can only wish what could've, should've done, but we gotta pray for the dead and keep fighting for the living so this doesn't happen again. Let's start spreading the word.

Anonymous said...

All jokes aside why did I see this headline & since we are talking about cancer I thought of Craig:

Anonymous said...

I know several younger people that have been effected by different types of Cancer including someone that is currently battling silently with Cervical Cancer.

HPV seems to be the quiet ghost of STDs with it effecting such a high percentage it seems to not be IF you'll get it, but WHEN and will you detect it soon enough. I'm happy that there is currently a vaccine for those young women under 26 which will hopefully impact the amount of young women that are effected by cervical cancer. If you know someone 26 and younger, by all means tell them to get that vaccine.

Thanks everyone for sharing their very personal stories. This is a serious topic and with all of the jokes and cracks, even I'm not scared to get serious sometimes.

Georgia Peach said...

Wow Priscilla thanks for blogging today. What a wake-up call for me. I'm so proud of you and your efforts to make Tia's battle mean hope. I will definitely pass this blog along to some of my friends so that we can all start to pay attention and listen to the warning signs our bodies give us.

Anonymous said...

I really want to thank all of you for being open to hear the story.

Its like when it all comes down to it we have had grandmothers, friends, associates and even ourselves be affected by cervical cancer. Its touching so many of us.

If we can just make it clear that - heck even caught midway there is a good chance at being cured.

Brooke said...

Thank YOU for sharing Tia's story. I know she's missed, but her spirit lives in all the good work you do :)

Anonymous said...


Thanks for sharing this story. I know it must be tough. It is really inspiring to see the things that you are doing. Keep up the good work. I will spread the word to people. I think this is beyond a gender thing and just sending this to women. I get that it is a female issue. It's about being making everyone aware and also it shows the type of character of a person and true friend that you are.

God Bless

* I apologize about not being able to post this yesterday. I was trying from my phone but I could not for some reason.

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