Since this May 19, 2012 will be the 20th Annual Komen Columbus Race for the Cure, for the next 20 weeks we’re going to spotlight 20 individuals who have participated in the Race throughout the years. They come from all walks of life and may be survivors, volunteers, grantees, sponsors or advocates, but they’re all committed to the fight against breast cancer.
Week Two: The One Who Inspires Others
Wanda Brown looks forward to the Race every year because as she says, “it’s one more year that I’m here. One more year that I can take part of this walk because I’m not a statistic.”
Wanda’s first Race for the Cure was in 2006. This came shortly after her diagnosis of Triple Negative Breast Cancer in 2004, a basal-like breast cancer that affects 15-20% of all breast cancers in the U.S. Anyone can get triple negative breast cancer, but it more frequently affects younger women, African American women, Hispanic women and women who have the BRCA1 mutations. This type of breast cancer is often aggressive, and tends to grow faster and is less likely to be seen on an annual mammogram.
For that first Race in 2006, Wanda walked with her children and still remembers the feeling of love and support that was in the air. Since then, she has encouraged many others to walk the Race with her, including her best friend who walked in 2007 and then passed away from breast cancer in 2008.
Wanda encourages others to walk with her to see all the survivors, especially those in the African American community.
“Breast cancer is not really talked about in our community, so it can be really shocking to see how many survivors are among us,” Wanda said. “Hearing you have breast cancer does not mean you have a death sentence. If you catch it early and do what you’re supposed to do, you have a good chance of surviving.”
To encourage early detection, Wanda started the “Sisters Network Columbus OH,” a group that works to increase breast cancer awareness and education among African American women. Every year Wanda and her volunteers organize a “Gift for Life Block Walk,” where volunteers (Young Women of Excellence, YWE), who are in Grades 7-12, walk door-to-door and talk to women about breast health, how to do self-exams and where they can get mammograms.
“These young girls (YWE) are learning about their breast health and can grow up knowing breast self-exams can be as routine as brushing your teeth,” Wanda said.
Wanda is looking forward to taking part in the 2012 Komen Columbus Race for the Cure alongside her family and many of those from her Sisters Network Columbus OH. Join Wanda and register today.