SOAR Community Network Interview with Maimah Karmo
Publisher of Bliss Magazine & Founder of Tigerlily Foundation
Maimah Karmo is the Publisher of Bliss Magazine, Founder of Tigerlily Foundation and a eight year survivor of breast cancer, who recently received the Congressional Black Caucus Leadership in Advocacy Award for her work with young women and breast cancer. In 2009, she spoke on Capitol Hill, alongside Representative Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, now Democratic National Committee Chair, to introduce the Breast Cancer Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young (EARLY) Act; and in October 2010, Maimah was appointed to the Federal Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer in Young Women, a committee established by the Affordable Care Act, on which she will work to develop initiatives to increase knowledge of breast health and breast cancer, particularly among women under the age of 40 and those at heightened risk for developing the disease.
On February 28, 2006, at 4:45 p.m., she was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. She had no family history of breast cancer; and was only 32-years old. While undergoing chemotherapy, she made a promise to God that if she survived, she would create an organization that would educate, empower, advocate for and support young women affected by breast cancer. After her second round of treatment, Tigerlily Foundation was born.
Since starting Tigerlily, Maimah has dedicated her life to helping young women around the world. She is a speaker and has appeared in various media outlets, to include O, the Oprah Magazine, Essence, Ladies Home Journal, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Redbook Women and Cancer, Cure Magazine and more. She has also been featured on Fox 5, ABC 7, CBS, the Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America and numerous national radio stations. In 2009, Maimah was awarded a L’Oreal Paris’ Woman of Worth award, among others. Maimah is a member of the Lance Armstrong Foundation Young Adult Alliance and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Advocates in Science program. She is also a National Breast Cancer Coalition Project LEAD graduate and is an active member of other advocacy organizations. In May 2011, she was awarded as one of Running Start’s “Women to Watch”. Most dear to Maimah’s heart is being the mother of a beautiful 8-year old girl, whom she adores.
While breast cancer was an unwelcome experience, Maimah would not give back the experience. “I’ve lived more in the past four years than I did the years before, and when I die, I want to know that I made the best use of my “after life” and impacted the lives of as many people as possible.” Maimah is dedicated to changing the breast cancer landscape and creating a legacy of a world free of breast cancer.
Mali: What is your personal mantra?
Maimah: Love the moment and the energy of that moment will flow beyond all boundaries.
Mali: What visions did you have for life when you were a child?
Maimah: I wanted to be a missionary when I was a child. I had a desire to serve the world in a big way, but wasn’t quite sure how that would be.
Mali: What is your personal philosophy on life now?
Maimah: My personal philosophy is to live my soul purpose, which means doing the things that allow me to wake up knowing I’ll be giving my best to the world that day, and when I go to bed at night, knowing I’ve lived, loved and given all I can. Live, love, learn and repeat.
Mali: What career path have you chosen or what services or products do you offer to your clients or consumers?
Maimah: In 2006, after being diagnosed with breast cancer at 32 years old, I founded Tigerlily Foundation to educate, advocate for, empower and support young women living with breast cancer. What I discovered was that when you live with your hands open – meaning that you’re giving and serving, you receive as much or more than you give – in the way of friendships, love, support and an authenticity and richness of life that is so fulfilling. In 2012, I wrote my memoir, Fearless: Awakening to My Life’s Purpose Through Breast Cancer, which became an Amazon top 10 best seller! Pick up a copy on my website. Earlier this year, I recently launched Bliss Magazine with two of my closest friends, Mali Phonpadith and Val Cavalheri, to inspire and empower others to show up fully. It’s been exciting to see the magazine grow after just two issues.
Mali: What motivates you to get up every day and do your work in the world? (Your WHY)
Maimah: The knowledge that I can do things that can change the world – that I can serve others, bring a smile to someone’s face, inspire a woman who is ill or discouraged to have a stronger will to survive and thrive, and to help others grow, learn and just “be” who they were born to be. Also, my lovely daughter, Noelle.
Mali: How do you find your peace and happy place to continue SOARing when faced with challenges?
Maimah: First, it is important to have rituals in place that keep us grounded on a daily basis; so no matter what, there is a center you come back to. I’m also very spiritual and employ various practices to keep me focused and whole. When things get challenging, I am so blessed to be surrounded by an army of angel friends, who give me back to myself when I forget. It is so important to be surrounded by people who are like-minded and who are of the same energy that you are, who work to elevate, empower and support your growth. Having friends who derive their joy from seeing me smile and grow into full self actualization is a wonderful thing to have, because this is how I feel about them. My daughter is one of my biggest life teachers. I’m constantly learning from her; and I’m so open to my angels. I call on them to surround me and guide me every day.
Mali: What are some words of wisdom you would like to share with our S.O.A.R. community?
Maimah: There is a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King that says, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” If we look to make an impact on the world and look outward, it is amazing how that act of giving circles back, and ripples outward to the larger global community. Never underestimate what a “small” act can do!