BJ: Happy New Year and Congratulations on being our first cover model of the decade! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
EC: My name is Erica Campbell. I was born and raised in Washington, DC. I was diagnosed with potentially fatal Stage 4 Hodgkin Lymphoma on March 28, 2013. My journey to survive my battle with cancer was very trying but after overcoming my obstacles, I was very passionate about inspiring people to have the d’zire to survive any challenges that they may face in their lives. My fight to survive lymphoma had its highs and its lows, however I didn’t give up even when at times when my battle seemed like it wasn’t getting any easier. Through my unwavering faith and trust in God as well as exuding a positive attitude, I knew I could get through it all. I am the Founder of “Dzire2Survive” a cancer support and advocacy group that helps improve the quality of life of patients and their families touched by the lymphoma disease, by providing education and up to date information. I want to inspire patients with peer to peer comfort to help them continue to fight and overcome their battle with blood cancers. No one faced with cancer should have to ever feel alone so it’s up to me as a survivor and cancer advocate to see that they don’t.
BJ: Can you speak about your cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery?
WOW, this is a very touchy memory for me. After being diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin Lymphoma (Blood Cancer), I felt numb and very scared. The only thing that I knew about cancer then, was that it could be deadly. So in the moment my doctor came in my hospital room to share with me and my family this life changing news that I had cancer, it felt like a horrible nightmare that I wanted so badly to wake up from.
EC: My road to recovery was terrifying because I didn’t know what each day would bring. I endured 6 months and 12 rounds of chemotherapy treatments, several medications, several surgeries; a staph infection called MRSA, blood clots, anxiety and depression. These were the many obstacles along my journey to survival. I also had many ups and downs where I cried some days and I smiled brightly on other days. But overall, I didn’t give up my fight.
BJ: How did your journey affect your body?
EC: I faced many challenges along my journey and some of those I still continue to face today. I have two port scars (Beauty Marks) on my chest (left side and right side) that was left behind. The first port did not heal properly because of the Staph Infection (MRSA), so I had to have an emergency surgery just a week or so later to remove it. After a couple of weeks of healing, the second port was inserted on the opposite side of my chest.
Sometimes I feel unpretty because I too battle with dark circles and hyper- pigmentation that stemmed from cancer shortly after my battle which weighs heavy on my self-esteem. I use makeup daily to cover my blemishes to make my unpretty feeling go away. I guess using the work ugly is too strong of a word but on most days without makeup, that’s exactly how I feel. I may look like I have it all together but I am still a work in progress each day. Cancer can lead many patients and survivors to depression, but it too can lead to appearance issues which led me to my movement “Feel Beautiful Look Beautiful” to help other women and young girls like myself and to let them know that they too are not alone.
BJ: What are your personal qualities which distinguish you from others?
EC: I personally feel that as a survivor of cancer, I am Warrior. I am Brave. I am Strong(er). If it hadn’t been for the adversities I faced, I don’t know for sure where I would be today. I didn’t survive to be basic so I will continue to be a woman evolving and have individual qualities that can help others in need.
BJ: What can we do more as an industry to advocate more woman embracing their bodies and loving them without the pressure of the media?
EC: I’ve always wanted to be a model but I had my doubts as a young girl because I have always been curvy with a few extra (lovely) pounds but after battling cancer I promised myself that I would do what brings me joy and live my best life. Just six short years ago, I got my feet wet in the modeling industry and its been amazing. But I will say the pressure from the media can also be very demanding which causes many women in the curvy community to feel their not enough or shouldn’t even be here (as a model).
We have been doing a great job on many outlets letting the world know that were here and we are not going anywhere so as long as we continue to come together as Curvy and Full-Figured women, the media won’t have too much to say. It’s their job to talk about anything good or bad anyway so we just have to keep giving them something to talk about to bring US the attention (smiling).
BJ: Being a model and in the public eye you have a responsibility to help empower others. What do you do to empower other women?
EC: I share my survival story often (social media outlets, through modeling and as a speaker). I want other women to always feel beautiful and bold in every way. I hope by being a model, inspirational speaker and influencer, that I continue to give HOPE and COURAGE to other women and young girls as they too live out loud in a powerful way (how they desire to live their best life).
BJ: What is one thing in 2020 want to conquer?
EC: I want to conquer it all in 2020. Whatever God sees fit for my journey, I am here for it. I won’t stress or rush anything because I have learned that what is for you, will be for YOU.
BJ: What is the one thing you would tell a young girl looking in the mirror who is having a hard time loving her curves?
EC: I would say “Giiiirl, you are AMAZING and you are rocking your curves.” “Curves are beautiful and they look even better in some cute jeans (smiling).”
BJ: What projects do you have coming up that you’d like our readers to know about?
EC: Right now I am putting more of my time into my “Feel Beautiful Look Beautiful” movement and working on my first ebook (cancer related) which will be available soon via my website www.ericasurvived.com
BJ: What do you want your legacy to be?
EC: I want for people to remember me as an undefeated strong woman who pushed to be better by doing better unto others. Also, someone that lived her best second life (as I would call surviving cancer in my first life).