I will never forget February 8, 2008. The date of my breast cancer diagnosis. I immediately went back to 1988. Remembering, the eight weeks I was a caregiver to my sister-in-law who had breast cancer and died quietly in our spare bedroom. Caring for her was a gratifying experience, but it was painful and heartbreaking to watch a loved one slowly departing this life. On February 8, 2008, I saw myself going down the same path.
But several days after the diagnosis this wonderful woman, who is a breast cancer survivor, entered my life. She was the founder and president of a newly formed organization, Sisters Network, Inc., – Milwaukee Affiliate. An organization dedicated to providing supportive, educational, and advocacy outreach services to increase breast cancer awareness for African-American women in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and surrounding areas.
At the time, she was employed as a full-time nursing instructor and simultaneously implementing this new and innovative non-profit organization. Yet, she found the time to lend individual support to a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient.
My Breast Cancer Mentor was there or within reach as I went through a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation. Utilizing the information and tips she provided, I navigated through the treatments with little or no distress.
For the past five plus years, I have watched my Breast Cancer Mentor build a strong organization. One that is well respected throughout the city and surrounding areas known for providing survivors, caregivers, and others with a broad range of programs, events, and activities designed to increase breast cancer awareness.
Because of the long-relationship with my Breast Cancer Mentor and the other survivors at Sisters Network, Inc., I have been able to make the transition from:
- being a Victim - I lived in fear of the “unknown.” Always seeking an answer to the question, “breast cancer, Why Me?”
- to living as a Warrior - I will not let breast cancer define who I am. I live in the present moment expressing and demonstrating gratitude, daily, for the wonderful Gift of Life.
As my Cancerversary date grows closer, I wanted to honor and express heartfelt love and appreciation to my Breast Cancer Mentor, she continues to:
- inspire me to look beyond my condition;
- uplift me spiritually (a praying woman)’
- educate me on the positive benefits of mindfulness, wellness, and spirituality.
Thank you, Phyllis Holder, for all you have done, all you continue to do, and all I know you will continue to do in your untiring effort to promote breast cancer awareness for the under diagnosed and undertreated population in the Milwaukee community.
My Mentor – Cancer Retreat
Cancer Help Program-The New School of Commonweal
My Mentor – Top Row and Center
NAACP Young Professionals Adult – Fundraiser: A Tribute to Services Provided by Sisters Network to the Community