Celebrating Breast Cancer Warriors

I couldn’t let October pass by without acknowledging Breast Cancer Awareness Month. When I first ventured into the world of biomedical research, my focus was anti-cancer and cancer chemoprevention. Working with cancer cell lines is a bit removed from the human experiences of cancer and how it effects families and communities. I know many beautiful women who have survived breast cancer and I truly admire their resilience and their drive to live. Let me share the story of few of these SHEROS.

Jubie Banks was my Zumba instructor at Gold’s Gym in Poughkeepse/Fishkill in New York. She was THE most fun and energetic instructor, and I always burned 600+ calories in her class. Yes, I listed two cities because I followed her to both towns for Zumba! Exercise requires a deep commitment and internal motivation to stay active and healthy. There were plenty of nights where I didn’t want to go, especially when it freezing and snowy outside! As the instructor, it’s not so easy to “skip a class”! Jubie would be in an out of class because of chemo or surgery, but would always come back as soon as she felt strong enough to dance! She would have just had a surgery and I would push her way to TEACH us – and still have more energy than we did! Jubie is a breast cancer warrior – I salute you, Jubie!

Jubie and Jubie’s Zumbies – Zumba dancing for LIFE!

Another warrior is my college mom, Mrs. Vinson! We had a beautiful surprise reunion when we crossed paths at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Indianapolis in 2018. She brought an amazing group of students from the University of Mississippi to the conference. The UM basketball team just so happened to be playing Butler in Indy, so of course we went to support our team! I believe her passion for serving students and others was a motivation for her to beat cancer! Mrs. Vinson a breast cancer warrior – I salute you, Mrs. V!

My college mom, Ms. Vinson, and her IMAGE students at the UM-BUTLER game in Indianapolis

More recently a dear church member kicked cancer’s tail and she continues to recover and heal. Donnika keeps a beautiful smile on her face and sends ME positive messages every morning – talk about a STRONG WOMAN. Her faith in God’s healing power drives her to remain positive and to keep fighting. Donnika is a breast cancer warrior – I salute you, Sis Donnika!

A few ladies from church supporting Donnika at a local Breast Cancer Awareness walk

I may not get to speak with these women on a regular basis, but each of them has is a true SHERO in my book. It is an honor to see their stories of victory unfold. These women advocate for taking care of our health through prevention. Now that I am in the age bracket for mammograms, I am scheduling to get “my girls” checked. I am also taking care of myself through regular exercise and a balanced diet.

Each of these women have a STRONG mind and STRONG faith – they are warriors. I salute these women and all of the many breast cancer warriors in my circle. Let their stories remind us that a strong mind and spirit help are key ingredients for the win. We celebrate you, WARRIORS!

Susie Strong. Fighter for Life. Custom Ink Fundraising
Isaiah 41:10

Written by Ja’Wanda S. Grant, PhD