If we can catch cancer at earlier stages, there are more treatment options …We know that knowledge is power, and we want to empower our community members to be their own healthcare advocates.Joanne Boyd, program director at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center’s Office of Community Outreach and Engagement
In the ongoing battle against breast cancer, the power of collaboration and compassion cannot be overstated. At Brother’s Brother Foundation (BBF), we understand the profound impact of this disease not just on individuals but on families and the community at large. Teaming up with Allen Place Community Services and the Kappa chapter of Chi Eta Phi Nursing Sorority, BBF supported an event in Pittsburgh in October, aligning with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The event was a beacon of care and compassion. Attendees accessed critical health services, including free flu and COVID-19 vaccines, eye exams, and blood pressure readings — all essential in not only combating the current pandemic but also in promoting comprehensive health and empowerment.
Following screenings, attendees were invited to the event’s closing luncheon where speakers, including BBF’s Vice President of Communications and Development, Laura Kelly, spoke passionately and candidly about her breast cancer fight.
During her speech, Laura reflected on her journey, beginning with the diagnosis of Stage III Invasive Breast Cancer.
“When I first received that life-altering diagnosis, it felt as if the ground had been ripped from beneath me. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt gripped my heart. But in the midst of that darkness, I found a flicker of light… I realized I had a choice to make. I could let breast cancer consume me, or I could harness its challenges to transform myself into a stronger, more resilient woman.”
The significance of Laura’s story is profound for BBF as it was the catalyst for the creation of our Breast Cancer Fund. The fund has been crucial in supporting patients at St. Luke’s Montefiore Hospital’s infusion center, which is the same place where Laura received her care.
The fund’s impact has crossed international borders through the Ribbons of Love program, providing essential medical aid to women fighting cancer in Honduras. In a significant move to enhance global healthcare, BBF’s Breast Cancer Fund recently granted funds to RAD-AID. This grant aims to improve breast cancer imaging in healthcare systems that are under-resourced, reaffirming BBF’s dedication to combating breast cancer across the globe.
“Breast cancer, like any serious illness, teaches us valuable lessons about life. It shows us the power of perseverance, the importance of a strong support system, and the beauty of the human spirit.”
Laura also thanked BBF President Ozzy Samad for his support when she shared her idea to create the BBF Breast Cancer Fund.
“… My first phone call to Ozzy … I will never forget his words, ‘How can I support you? What do you need from me? We are here for you.’ I told him, I am so blessed and lucky to have the healthcare and the means to be seen [by doctors] in America. I know others are suffering and I want us to help others in the world and make a difference. He said, ‘We can do that.’”
Looking ahead, BBF’s Breast Cancer Fund is taking a strong stand to aid cancer survivors in the next stage of their journey. With this, the fund will focus on post-recovery support, offering services like counseling and programs designed to help survivors navigate life after cancer. This initiative reflects our dedication to not just fighting cancer but also supporting the continued well-being of survivors.
The event reinforced the importance of unity in the fight against breast cancer. This battle is not just about raising awareness; it calls for actionable support, genuine compassion, and empowering each person to take control of their health.
There were several special guests at the event, including Jerry Ann Allen, MPM, BSM, RN, FCN and founder of Allen Place Community Services, Dr. Steven Evans, an oncologist at UPMC, and Joanne Boyd, the program director at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center’s Office of Community Outreach and Engagement.
At BBF, our commitment to combating breast cancer is unwavering. We invite the entire community to join us in this fight, emphasizing that shared knowledge and teamwork are essential. Together, we can move towards a future where health is a priority for all. Your involvement is crucial, so please stand with us.