Rekindling the inner spirit
Living Beyond Breast Cancer is grateful to share this blog from 2021 Hear My Voice Advocate Sharon D. Kidd, who died in November 2022 from metastatic breast cancer. Sharon was working on this blog in the weeks before her death to support LBBC's Breast Cancer Awareness Month theme of "Together We C.A.N."
Sharon's advocacy was deeply rooted in community and, even in the most difficult moments, she strove to share her story and light a path for others. Our staff honors her dedication and commitment, and we dedicate this blog to her memory.
In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
I was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) in 2019 during the midst of a nasty divorce. Individuals I had once called “friends” faded away, just as the love from my marriage had. In addition to those losses, Covid-19 arrived and normal types of socialization halted. I was forced into even greater isolation as an immune-compromised person. I recall walking into the treatment center hoping that there was a person who looked like me there; I hoped to meet someone with a similar lived experience. Although my support system was great, they could not completely relate to my new reality as they had not been personally impacted by cancer.
Seeking friendship and companionship, I searched for a local breast cancer community but was not able to find a local support group, whether general or for women of color. I also researched online cancer support groups. While researching, I began to want to know more about the disease and how I could become an advocate for breast cancer awareness. My search led me to Living Beyond Breast Cancer. LBBC had resources for my daughter and me when I needed help sharing my cancer diagnosis with my then 5-year-old. Through LBBC’s Reading for Reassurance program, I was sent a children’s book and some reading material that I could share with my treatment center.
I was so impressed by the customer service I received that I successfully applied to join the Hear My Voice advocacy training. This training allowed me to meet others who were affected by cancer. The class was diverse, and there were participants from all over the United States. The training offered informative content and engaging activities after each module. These activities allowed us to get to know each other on a personal level outside of our cancer diagnosis. We were able to build community during the short time we shared with each other. In addition to making new advocate friends, I truly enjoyed creating an advocate elevator speech. Learning how to effectively share my breast cancer story is a skill that has created opportunities for speaking engagements and blog/vlog opportunities. I was now part of a supportive network, and I was sharing my story in a larger conversation about breast cancer. My story does more than raise awareness: I provide support to women like me, and I advocate for much needed solutions in health care.
During LBBC’s training, they mentioned For the Breast of Us (FTBOU) several times as an emerging organization created by and designed to assist women of color affected by breast cancer. I immediately began to follow FTBOU on all social media platforms, and I joined their closed Facebook group. There, I posted about my breast cancer journey, and I learned more about myself and others. So often we think that we are alone as we face hardship, yet many others are dealing with the same thing. My new friends on FTBOU’s group praised me for being brave enough to publicly share my cancer journey. My transparent posts helped me find my people. Although these individuals were miles away, they grew near and dear to my heart. Having a safe space to share the good, bad, and ugly about my cancer journey without any judgment meant the world to me.
LBBC’s and FTBOU’s communities played important roles in my cancer journey. These organizations helped me find individuals affected by cancer who supported me without question or judgment. I felt seen, heard, and valued. They provided emotional support, and they shared coping skills that they used during their cancer journeys. During difficult times, I was reassured that regardless of what I was going through, I would make it through. There were many times that I did not believe it, but they did, and they were right. At a time when my internal flame was out, these women ignited me, and I am forever grateful to LBBC and FTBOU.
Sign up to receive emotional support, medical insight, personal stories, and more, delivered to your inbox weekly.