Wilmington TEDx event focuses on women’s empowerment

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Two-time cancer survivor Tiffany Gwilliam told the TEDx Wilmington audience Friday never to hesitate to tell a medical professional,

Two-time cancer survivor Tiffany Gwilliam told the TEDx Wilmington audience Friday never to hesitate to tell a medical professional, "I do not feel I am being listened to and need some clarity." (Cris Barrish/WHYY News)

Survivors, life coaches and other women’s advocates focused on empowerment Friday at a TEDx event in Wilmington, Delaware. Twenty-seven speakers covered everything from disease and fear to assault and depression.

More than 100 people listened in the downtown Theatre N at Nemours as speakers shared their stories — and solutions others can use.

Tiffany Gwilliam, a mother of three from King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, looks like the picture of health. But she explained how she survived melanoma several years ago, only to learn in 2016 that she had thyroid cancer.

“Hearing the devastating news brought me to my knees,” she told the audience. “I had beaten cancer once before, but this time I was more petrified for my kids. Will I beat this?”

Gwilliam said aggressively advocating for herself — and challenging medical professionals when necessary — has aided her recovery. She’s in remission.

Karen Pilgrim of Brooklyn, who runs the nonprofit Vision Vegan Soul, tells women to “stay powerful and love yourself enough.” (Cris Barrish/WHYY)

“When communication breaks down, it leaves the door open for medical errors, preventable hospital admissions and unintended harm,” she said. “I’ve learned a powerful phrase: I do not feel I am being listened to and need some clarity.”

Motivational speaker Karen Pilgrim, who runs the Brooklyn nonprofit Vision Vegan Soul, said her mission is to help women take the necessary steps to turn their visions into action, and self-fulfillment.

Her message?

“Just stay powerful and love yourself enough. No. 1, you are a woman in the United States. That right there is overcoming a challenge,” she said, chuckling. “And then, any obstacles that you come to, that’s part of your journey. It’s going to make you a better person.”

The overall theme of the day was “showing up,” said TEDx Wilmington organizer Ajit George. “Otherwise, you are not in the game.”

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