This entry is written by Tonya Hackney, Psychiatric Nurse. Tonya was featured in LBBC’s African-American specific publication: Getting Connected, which will be re-released in the coming months:
It was a cold and rainy day in Chicago but I had a job to do! I volunteered to represent LBBC at a conference held jointly by the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois. The conference was titled, “Surviving Breast Cancer Together: Connecting Survivors, Community, and Science.”
At 7 a.m., me and two of my “Sistahs in Pink,” Virginia and Stephanie, were at Kennedy King setting up our display tables. Since being diagnosed with breast cancer in November of 2009, I was determined to focus my energy on volunteering and spreading the word that there IS life AFTER breast cancer! I also invited a friend from church who had just become a member of our “sisterhood.”
I’m always so “hyped” whenever I’m working toward our cause. And, rain aside, today was no different. I’ve been blessed with the “gift of gab” and it was easy to extol the virtues of LBBC! LBBC and its website, lbbc.org, have been instrumental to my healing. On days when chemo was winning the battle (but not the war) I could go to the LBBC website, read, and respond to stories that I could relate to – because I was living them.
As I signed up women for the mailing list, email list, and gave women brochures, I felt “invigorated!” I also shamelessly plugged the new LBBC publication for African-American women – Getting Connected. I couldn’t resist. My friends and I are featured in the publication! Being in a room with women of all age groups and races who all have the same purpose is touching. These women offer to share themselves and their stories for another “sister in pink” who is struggling on her journey to be made whole again after a breast cancer diagnosis.
There was so much emotion in the room that it was palpable! Between sessions we laughed, cried, gave each other advice, and shared our survival techniques with those who had yet to begin chemotherapy. Needless to say, breast cancer changes your life and your entire perspective on what truly matters. I had no choice in getting the disease, but I do have a choice in what my life will be beyond the disease. That’s really what the conference was all about.
The conference gave us tools to cope, new medical information, and let us know as a “pink community” that researchers, geneticists, and doctors are here to support us and to find a cure to end this disease. There is hope that on one fine day “pink” will once again be just a color for newborn girls – and not symbolic for breast cancer.
How have you represented a breast cancer organization that has made a difference in your journey? Why is volunteering and spreading awareness so important before and after you’ve been diagnosed? Comment here or on our Facebook page.