Why I'm choosing to educate myself to empower my sisters
July 18, 2019, I jumped on a plane in Jacksonville, Florida and headed to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s Young Advocate Training. Out of 90 women across the United States, I am one of 27 selected to help other young women affected by breast cancer as a Leadership Volunteer for LBBC.
For three days, I sat in a room full of Breast Cancer Baddies and learned how each of us could harness our unique experiences to change the communities we live in and the world if we wanted to. I was surrounded by women from all over the country, in various stages of their cancer journey. Women who have chosen various methods and combinations of treatments and yet, we were connected by a single shared experience.
We were the zebras doctors were never trained to look for.
We were not the one in eight women diagnosed with breast cancer.
We defied the odds as the less than 10 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 45.
Going into the training, I had big concepts on my mind. How can I help better align the resources and agencies helping to end health disparities for women of color affected by breast cancer? How can I help non-women of color be accomplices in our fight for better health outcomes? How can I be a better accomplice to women affected by metastatic breast cancer?
While the training did not answer these questions directly, it most certainly got my wheels turning. For the first time, I feel confident enough to actually plan events and fundraisers outside of my day job. I feel fired up to raise awareness of the resources LBBC offers to make sure every person affected by breast cancer feels supported and informed.
I feel like I have a strong foundation to help women of color and young women affected by breast cancer overcome some of their barriers to quality treatment because now I realize there are so many ways to bring about change, For the Breast of Us being one of those.
And I’m on this journey to better equip myself with the skills and knowledge needed to help other women because I believe it is the purpose for my painful experience. I believe even though our journeys may be hard, we are always built to not only endure them, but to make the best of them.
I often tell people about the fear I felt the day of my mastectomy and how I was worried if I died that day, I’d wasted my life being too scared to chase the desires of my heart. I can say for certain I woke up from surgery a new woman and I haven’t looked back.
As both a young woman and a black woman affected by breast cancer, I have dual citizenship in communities who are often dismissed and overlooked in the medical community. So, I am determined to use my voice, my ideas, my time and my talents to help turn the tide for us; to give hope to the hopeless and a voice to the voiceless.
No, these are not new issues, both communities have suffered from lack of support, resources and research for decades, but my knowledge is new, my resources have grown, my community has expanded and my vision is bigger.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a 2019-2020 Living Beyond Breast Cancer Young Advocate and I’m excited to set the world on fire 2019 and beyond. To learn about Living Beyond Breast Cancer, visit lbbc.org.