Save the Tatas: A Pajama Party with a Breast Cancer Purpose

October 31, 2014  |  

One little girl is empowered to raise awareness of breast cancer, after her mom is diagnosed.

When Maimah Karmo was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, her daughter was just 3 years old.  Her life was perfect and she had acquired the standard American Dream: A car, home, first born and the road to being married.  Soon after her diagnosis, she began to see her life fall apart, her engagement broken off, medical bills accumulating and loss of a job, she had no where to turn but within.

“By my second chemotherapy treatment I looked in the mirror and asked God to renew my spirit,” says Maimah and continues, “I didn’t ask God to save my life, because why is my life more important than the next person?  I asked God to give me strength to do what he wants me to do, for his service and if he renews my spirit I’ll dedicate my life to him, in service. Literally, I got up the next morning and felt like a different person, with a compassion to help others and I began working on the launch of the Tigerlily Foundation.

The Tigerlily Foundation’s mission is to educate, advocate for, empower and provide hands-on support to young women affected by breast cancer. Programs provide education, financial assistance, meals, buddies, education and empowerment. Maimah gave it the name of a flower that represents beauty, strength and transformation.

Eight years later, Maimah is cancer free, an author of her book Fearless which chronicles her breast cancer journey and the Tigerlily Foundation is thriving.  Yet, Maimah found herself in a unique partnership with her daughter, Noelle, who at the age of 6 came to her mother and asked how she could help her with all that she was going through with treatment, maintaining life and mommyhood.

“When Noelle was 6 she gave a fund raiser to help me without telling me, and people would give her money. She came back home with $1,000 in cash! Then she said: ‘I want to help you on my own.  I want to be able to raise money with my own event.’  I wanted her to have her own identity, but I wanted her to wait until she was older.  Every year she kept asking if she can have this event, this pajama party…so last year we approached the board, we planned it in 3 weeks and over 300 people showed up, in DC.”

By the time Noelle turned 11, the Pajama Glam Party was born.

“The Pajama Glam Party is basically like a health fair but all blinged out.  We know people don’t want to hear about breast cancer, but will come and have fun.  They find that they are educated on prevention and wellness and having a better quality of life.”

This year the pajama party was presented by Shea Moisture and held in Brooklyn.  Activities included a juice bar, celebrity chef Kimberly Van Kline, Big Apple Circus, music and Zumba dancing, hair and make-up stations, even a lash bar!

“If a 6 year old girl comes and starts eating healthy and knowing what kind of water she’s drinking, what has more acids, how to eliminate processed foods etc, when you know these things, you make healthier choices.  A lot of women and girls make their choices on what taste good, but beyond the addiction of sugar, it can hurt your body.  Disease doesn’t just happen over night, it builds up over time.

What if getting these young women and girls early enough to make it fun for them begins to change their lives? The young girls start asking questions like, what is juicing? What is breast cancer? What are toxins? They start thinking about very important choices early on.  The pajama party is here to empower young girls to become knowledgeable early on so that they can make wise choices…so it’s fun and full of bling, sparkle, pop, boas and pajamas to get them excited.”

Maimah discovered that her journey sparked an interest in her daughter to exercise and make healthy life choices.  Together they participate in yoga, go to the gym and even juice!

“When I juice my greens or wheatgrass, I give her chocolate wheat grass or she puts a banana in hers…she’s now comfortable about her body and the things I talk about with her, teaching her that breast cancer isn’t a dirty word…that it’s empowering.”

“The key is to get young girls and their families talking about prevention and wellness and living a preventative health type of lifestyle.  It should be fun, something they do as part of their life, not just when someone gets sick.  If we start women and girls early, its not a scary thing.”

To find out how to attend a future Pajama Glam Party or keep to up with upcoming events, sign up for the mailing list, here: www.tigerlilyfooundation.org

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