Post Crescent

Appleton woman helps puts spotlight on
cervical cancer with Evening of Hope fundraiser

By Cheryl Anderson • Post-Crescent staff writer • February 21, 2010

Most people don't want to talk about cervical cancer.
But Appleton's Kellie Delveaux has made it her life's mission.

Delveaux is co-founder of SAS Cervical Cancer Foundation, founded in memory of her friend Sybil Ann Seehawer, who was 31 when she died of cervical cancer in 2008. Delveaux was her caregiver.

The Appleton-based foundation supports women in Wisconsin with daily living expenses while they are undergoing treatment for cervical cancer, provides educational resources and raises awareness for women's health issues.

"It makes it so what happened to (Sybil) wasn't just a tragedy and forgotten," said Delveaux, one of 40 women chosen to participate last month in a congressional briefing at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill and a day of lobbying under the auspices of Tamika & Friends, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit organization also dedicated to raising awareness about cervical cancer.

"We just jumped on that bandwagon pretty fast," said Delveaux, who early on reached out to other cervical cancer foundations such as Tamika & Friends, run by cervical cancer survivor Tamika Felder, and Love, Kristen, an Indiana nonprofit run by Kirk and Brenda Forbes, who lost their 23-year-old daughter, Kristen, to cervical cancer.

On Capitol Hill, Delveaux met with representatives from Sen. Russ Feingold's office, Congressman Steve Kagen and representatives from the offices of David Obey, Ron Kind and Tammy Baldwin.

"We talked about what we do as an organization with SAS and how we are the only ones in Wisconsin that are there to help women financially after they are diagnosed with cervical cancer," said Delveaux, who also spoke on the huge gap in education.

"Women need to be more educated about their health and we as a state need to make sure that's happening," she said. "There is federal funding and state-level funding for free pap smears and breast cancer screenings for underinsured and uninsured women."

"We asked for more funding and awareness for the National Breast and Cervical Cancer detection program because only 7 percent of the eligible people are using that," Felder said. "And that's just too low of a number; it's ridiculous. We want to make sure women who are underinsured and underserved populations are definitely getting in for their screenings. And we also want to let people know locally what we are doing in the community to spread awareness."

Felder will be the featured speaker at the SAS Foundation's second annual Evening of Hope benefit dinner from 5 to 11 p.m. March 13 at Applecreek Inn, De Pere. Tickets are $45 and include hors d'oeuvres and cocktails, a silent and live auction, dinner and live entertainment.

When Felder was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2001, HPV and cervical cancer weren't splashed in the headlines like they are today. After a radical hysterectomy, chemotherapy and radiation and facing the fact she'd never have children of her own, Felder felt alone and isolated.

"Even though the medical community knew a lot about HPV, the average everyday women didn't know about it unless she had it and her doctor spoke to her about it," said Felder, who is now cancer-free. "I sought out other women to share my experiences with them. Even though I had a great support group they really couldn't understand because they didn't go through what I went through. And lo and behold, there were all these women kind of looking and searching for the same thing. So I wanted to create a place, and my friends kept asking, 'what can I do to help?' Out of that Tamika & Friends was born."

Formed in 2005, the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit organization is dedicated to educating and raising awareness about HPV and cervical cancer. Tamika & Friends also offers support to co-survivors and caregivers, and reaches out and partners with other organizations like SAS. Similar to Felder, Delveaux also turned the pain of cancer into action by educating women in Wisconsin.

"I just thought it would be wonderful to bring her to Washington, D.C., not only to represent the great state of Wisconsin, but represent her organization and represent the legacy of her friend," Felder said.

Cheryl Anderson: 920-993-1000,ext. 249, or