Tamika Coverdale, Esq.
Linda R. Coverdale, raised me to believe that I can overcome anything with belief in God, support of family and friends, and belief
in myself. I have been an attorney for close to 22 years. I am a Bison, a proud graduate of the Mecca, Howard University. I
share this because my education also taught me how to deal with difficult days.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 when I turned 40. That was some type of birthday present. I scheduled my first mammogram and was not nervous because, after all, breast cancer did not run in my family. A few minutes after my mammogram was completed, the radiologist advised me
that I needed to have a biopsy done. Two days later I received the dreaded call: “Ms. Coverdale, are you sitting down?” My response: “Yes, why?” I had represented clients in court all day and was tired. The radiologist told me I had cancer and asked if my gynecologist had called, since my gynecologist had been notified… NO, NO, NO!
I was told that I needed to come back to the office and go over some things about next steps. When I hung up my cell phone, I was in tears, ugly tears. I called my mom, who was with my aunt. They told me that they were by my side and that I would get through this. I then called one of my best friends, Arlett. I laugh now because she told me that we had a few minutes to cry and then we needed to schedule my procedure, my lumpectomy. Arlett got me through a tough
time. She is a sister more than a friend. To have a friend who will cry with you but push you forward is amazing, and I am so grateful for her love.
There was a period when my mother and I were on public assistance. At the age of five, I sat in the back of my mother’s nursing classes while she studied to
become a Registered Nurse at Pace University. Why do I share this? As I wrote in my first sentence, life has never been easy for me, but I persevered. My roots run deep in these United States going back to the 1600s, so that means I am a descendant of the first Africans who arrived on the shores of the land inhabited
by our Indigenous Sisters and Brothers before there was a United States. My family herstory/history is strong. We are a proud people, both “free” and
enslaved from rural Delaware and Pennsylvania on my maternal side and Virginia and the North Carolina Outer Banks, on my paternal side.
I had my lumpectomy and soon after had more than 30 sessions of radiation. That was a difficult time for me. Why? I am and was at that
time a practicing criminal defense attorney. I was in court at least four out of five days a week. I would arrive for my radiation treatments at
8:00 a.m. and arrive in court at 9:30 a.m. Only two of my colleagues knew my plight. I am now close to being a 10-year survivor.
Two of my favorite songs are “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child and “Break My Soul” by Beyonce. These songs are my testimony. Jesus is and
has always been at the center of my life, and Jesus and the best medical care saved me.
I share my testimony with everyone, especially African-American women, because when we are diagnosed early, we are survivors. As a Diversity
Equity and Inclusion Officer, I know how necessary it is to ensure that our stories are INCLUDED in the breast cancer narrative. It is
important that when we are in pain, we are heard.
African-American women have a long herstory of fighting for everyone else; but we must take care of and fight for ourselves. I am blessed and highly favored
and I will always fight to ensure that African-American women have a seat at the table, or bring our own table to the breast cancer narrative. I am so thankful for the opportunity to share my testimony.