Monday, December 24, 2012

Spotlight on Mom: Maimah Karmo, Author of Fearless: Awakening to My Life’s Purpose Through Breast Cancer

I first found out about Maimah and her story, when her publicist reached out to me to share a guest post.  Her cancer story and accomplishments struck a cord with me, as I am also a young cancer survivor, and I knew I wanted to spotlight her in my Spotlight on Mom feature.  So, when she said she would like to share her story, I couldn't wait to not only read her responses to my standard questions I have all Spotlight Moms answer, but also share them with you.  With so much adversity and obstacles Maimah has faced through her life, I am impressed with all that she has accomplished.  When I was going through radiation and chemo treatments, the last thing I could imagine thinking about doing was starting a foundation, but this is what Maimah did.  And, since then, she has penned her book, Fearless: Awakening to my Life's Purpose Through Breast Cancer, all while being a single mom.  I am in awe of her accomplishments and know that her book, which released last month will soon become a best seller.  It is a book that both cancer surivors (of all types) and those who love reading memoirs will enjoy reading.

About Maimah's book, Fearless: Awakening to my Life's Purpose Through Breast Cancer:

"Fearless: Awakening to My Life's Purpose Through Breast Cancer (Brown Books, October 2012) is about my transformation and how I learned that a challenge can be a gift.

Fearless is an account of my upbringing in Liberia—which was uprooted when when I was 15 years old, and my family was forced to flee to the U.S.—to living the American Dream, watching it all fall apart with a breast cancer diagnosis, and ultimately, bouncing back.

Today, I'm sharing my story in the hope that it empowers others. The morning my life changed, I made a vow to live as loudly as possible. I would jump into the things that made me afraid; I would risk everything to feel, to live and to love. Most of all, I would be fully present in life and give of myself so that others may have the incredible joy I feel every day of my life."

I was sent a copy of Maimah's book, and can't wait until the holidays are over and things settle down so that I can read her book.  Her story sounds interesting, and I am in awe at how she was able to start a foundation while undergoing cancer treatment, and raising a 3 yr. old daughter.  If you are looking for a great read during the cold winter months, why not consider picking up a copy of Maimah's book?  And, if you do, make sure you head back here and let me know what you think of it.  You can pick up a copy of her book for only $26.95 through Amazon by clicking here:

In the meantime, please enjoy my interview with Maimah Karmo, author of Fearless: Awakening to My Life's Purpose Through Breast Cancer.


Name:  Maimah Karmo
Company Name/Product/Service:   Author, Fearless: Awakening to My Life’s Purpose Through Breast Cancer
Company Location:  Reston, VA
Company Website:
Twitter Handle: @maimah
Age of Company: 2 years old
Favorite Inspirational Quotes:  Love the moment and the energy of that moment will spread throughout all boundaries.
Favorite Book:  The Diary of Anne Frank 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.  How many children do you have?  What are their ages? Your hobbies? Etc.

I am an author and President of a non-profit organization, Tigerlily Foundation.  I have a 9 year old little girl, Noelle, whom I adore. My hobbies are living, laughing, loving, enjoying life and everything in between! I love to dance, cook, travel and read most; and really enjoy having friends over and going to out dinner and enjoying various experiences with people I love.

Briefly explain your business.  How did it come about?

In 2006, I was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer.  I was 32 years old and had a 3-year old daughter.  When I had initially gone to the doctor, I had been told I was too young to have breast cancer.  She performed an aspiration, which was unsuccessful, but she insisted that I come back in six months, during which time the lump doubled in size.  I began experiencing overwhelming fatigue and night sweats.  When I went back, she insisted on a re-aspiration.  I pushed for a biopsy.  I was diagnosed the next day, then found out I had aggressive breast cancer. While undergoing treatment,  I founded the Tigerlily Foundation, with a mission to educate, advocate for, empower and provide hands-on support to young women – before, during and after breast cancer. What started as a promise and a dream is now a nationwide organization reaching thousands.  Tigerlily Foundation provides education and empowerment to young women and their families, we educate healthcare practitioners, provide peer support to newly diagnosed young women, send young women in treatment breast cancer buddy bags, meals, pay their bills, and provide support to young women living with Stage 4 breast cancer.  Running Tigerlily, I had to travel and speak a lot and people often asked me if I had a book and my answer was “no”. I never had the time to write it and I was solely focused on giving back to others, not me. One day, I met someone who asked me the question and I gave my usual answer; and she said, “well, have you thought of how many other people you could help through your book; people you might never meet?” I went home, prayed about it and woke up knowing that it was time to publish my book. It is being released in November and is titled, Fearless: Awakening to My Life’s Purpose Through Breast Cancer, as it was inspired by my breast cancer journey. 

What is a typical work day like?

They are never the same – they are filled with calls, meetings, meeting survivors, sponsors, doing outreach, creating partnerships and learning new things. I think that the best part of my job is that I get to help people for a living and I’m always learning and growing.  I meet wonderful women who have survived incredible journeys and I’m always inspired by them.

What has been a struggle while starting up your company?  

Getting funding and creating awareness. However, I believe that if you know that what you’re doing is the right thing; if you’re passionate about it, people will feel that energy and you’ll attract and create what you need to be successful. 

What did you do in your past work life?

I did proposal management for small, medium and large Government contractors. 

What have been some of your major successes? 

I am blessed to have been successful in winning large proposals in my past work life; and to be successful with Tigerlily Foundation. With Tigerlily, my major successes would include, first and foremost, being able to raise funding to help more young women living with breast cancer; also, to grow the organization so that we can make an impact within the community. I have been blessed to also meet Oprah Winfrey, President Obama and the First Lady, Robin Roberts and so many people I may not have met, had I not been doing the work that I am doing.

What have been some of your major challenges?

Breast cancer was a challenge, but one that I would not give back, as it taught me so much and made me appreciate myself and life so much more.

On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going? 

My promise to God – to give my best to the world and to give myself in service to others; and my daughter, Noelle, who inspires me every day.

What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?

Time management. I schedule everything, especially time with my daughter, which is non-negotiable; time for me – naps, trips, facials, gym, yoga, meditation, time with family and friends, and quiet time to restore my soul. Sometimes life does get hectic, but I have to always remember that it is a privilege to be alive and these moments, no matter how they come, are a gift.

What is next for your business? 

I am looking forward to watching Fearless hit the best seller lists and help others; growing Tigerlily Foundation so that it is a strong, sustainable national and global organization.
Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a business?
Put the business of your business in place first. No matter how passionate you are, if your foundation is not strong, you won’t be successful – accounting, legal, advisors, structure, processes – get them all locked in. Also, surround yourself with people who support and believe in you. Lastly, your business should make you happy and be something that you’re passionate about. If not, it is just another job. Make sure you do what you love!

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