I am a 19-year breast cancer survivor. After being misdiagnosed for two years, I could have been angry. You see, I found my own lump doing a self-exam in my late 30s, and despite telling my doctor, I kept being told, "it's not cancerous." Finally, the same lump became so large that I had it removed. That's when a surgeon requested a biopsy, and I was diagnosed with an advanced stage of breast cancer. I underwent an aggressive treatment plan that included high dosage chemotherapy, radiation, and participating in a clinical trial.
My journey was hard and I think about it every day! I believe God spared my life, so I could help save another.
It is my battle with breast cancer that birthed Praise Is The Cure. My journey revealed something bigger than just me. My daughter and I started volunteering for a lot of breast cancer organizations, and realized with all the disparities among Black women, we needed to reach our community in a bigger way. So we started "Praise Sunday – Breast Cancer Awareness Day" to provide breast health literature in the community through churches.
But as a survivor, I knew survivors weren't normally celebrated and I wanted to change that. From there, we planned a special "Praise & Worship" service for survivors. That's when Keystone First and Fox Chase Cancer Center offered to support our program. Before we knew it, the Praise & Worship service turned into a concert. But it didn't stop there.
As a breast cancer survivor, I recognized that men have a difficult time understanding breast cancer and how to deal with it. It was also important for Praise Is the Cure to create an opportunity for men to find fellowship with each other and talk about issues. So eventually a men's event was added. But it didn't stop there.
By this time, my daughter Kerri (co-founder of Praise Is the Cure) was also diagnosed with breast cancer and fighting her own battle. Her daughter Maddie inspired her to write a children's book entitled, My Mommy Has Breast Cancer, But She's Ok, and the YMCA asked us to host an event – that's how our annual Children's Festival was born.
We've packaged all of these activities into our annual week of Hope, Health & Healing. During this week our biggest day of activities is now called "Super Saturday." Our goal is to make Super Saturday a day for family because breast cancer affects the entire family. On Saturday, we have a full schedule of events for the family at Mt. Airy Church of God. And then on Sunday, a very special Grace Dance Theater Benefit Performance will be held at 4 p.m. at Kurtz Center for the Performing Arts.
Through it all, I want survivors to know God is still on the throne. Live in faith! I understand the journey they have taken and are taking. My prayer is that they live life to the fullest and accept the responsibility to help another sister. We have to talk more, share more, help more and love more. We have to take care of our own community.
Praise Is the Cure is here to give hope and provide help by offering access to screenings and treatment, educational events, and support through our My Sister's Keeper program.
I am grateful to the people and companies who have joined our mission to eliminate breast cancer disparities among black women in Philadelphia and its surrounding areas. It's a blessing to witness the unwavering commitment of Keystone First and Fox Chase Cancer Center to increasing breast health awareness and supporting breast cancer survivors.