Sherroll Reese: Volunteering Around the World
Hi Team Pink Purpose,
I beat cancer and I lived to tell about it. It was 2006 and I had been diagnosed with DCIS.
After my diagnosis, I had two failed long-term relationships and another relationship that finally ended because he never called me back. Yes my friends, he up and never called me back after 2 and half years of an on-and-off relationship. I was furious to say the least. But then I found out, 6 months later, that he was admitted to the hospital the day after we last talked. He died 3 days later. Can you say, “hard blow to the heart”?
I got my MBA and had a second amazing son who is going to change the world for the better. I moved from Houston to Austin, finally got a job I love (#lifeatVisa) and purchased my first home.
That was a lot of growth and maturing and life lessons leading up to 2017. My oldest was now in his teenage years and trying to get an athletic scholarship, date, and eat everything in my house. He was also now my babysitter so I could get a few hours of mommy time. The kids were happy, so life was looking good for my family.
In the days that led up to what would be the hardest day of my life, I asked God to show me my purpose. I knew I wanted to serve but I wasn’t sure how. A few days later, while doing some home improvement to my new house, I dropped body scrub all over myself. As I was rubbing it off I felt a lump under my arm and I thought, “no big deal.”
I went to work and told a close coworker that I felt an extra, small, marble-like lump under my arm and he agreed with me that I needed to go to see my primary care physician. Long story short, she sent me for tests, imaging and two biopsies. It was confirmed: I was 36 years old, young, single and had terminal cancer. Let’s add a couple more things to the list: I was a single mother, African-American and also looking for my “happily ever after.”
God answered my prayers and gave me the blessing of purpose. Now, I’m not saying that God’s purpose was for me to have cancer. But God gave me a way to cope with terminal cancer in the form of an amazing idea that came to me in my sleep: Travel with Pink Purpose.
Travel with Pink Purpose is my way of giving back to the breast cancer community:
Our mission: To connect and serve the countries around world with the highest rates of breast cancer.
What we aim to solve: According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, Word Cancer Research Fund, "breast cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in women and the second most common cancer overall." In 2018, they report that there were over 2 million new cases of breast cancer. That’s 2 million lives affected worldwide, with no way of bridging communities that often work independently toward identifying cures.
Travel with Pink Purpose is committed to connecting and serving the communities with the highest rates of breast cancer by bringing awareness to global similarities, sharing our journeys, and working towards a common goal: finding a cure to beat breast cancer.
I urge you all to join me as we travel with pink purpose to the 25 countries with the highest rates of breast cancer. Follow me through my public Facebook group, Travel with Pink Purpose.
Let me take you on a fantastic voyage. My first stop was Auckland, New Zealand. I had a great friend and sorority sister, Melissa, travel with me to volunteer at Breast Cancer Foundation New Zealand. Can I tell you that New Zealand is the most beautiful place I have ever been? So far – I have a lot traveling to do.
The big day volunteering at Breast Cancer Foundation NZ, I have to say, was the highlight of my trip. We cleaned up their database and got up-to-date contact information for about 1,000 clients by calling them. The thing I found so funny was that when we had the calls, people always asked if we were from America. They could tell by our dialect. Though they were getting annoyed that they couldn’t understand me, they were kind and didn’t hang up. Funny thing is, the local ladies who work there said people always hang up on them.
The women in the office were amazing and gave me all kinds of information about the resources they have for the women they serve, and we compared stories. While taking our lunch break, we ran into an amazing woman who survived three different cancers, with breast cancer being the one that wiped her out the most. She and her handsome husband were having lunch because they were headed to the U.S. to see his son do professional wrestling. By chance, they were scheduled for a layover in Houston, Texas.
We stayed in a lovely Airbnb owned by the couple that lived next door, and they were so amazing and so kind. On an early evening, after shopping at a local market for that night’s dinner, we saw a band warming up and playing second line music, which is the sound of Louisiana. Having a Louisiana background, Melissa and I had questions about this came to be in New Zealand.
“Why are you playing second line music and where did you learn to play it?” we asked them. They answered our questions with ease: “We liked it and learned from YouTube.” We needed to hear how this New Zealand YouTube second line music would sound, and to our surprise, it sounded pretty good.
In the process of playing investigators, we followed the band onto a patio. The people there immediately noticed us: the only two African-American women for miles to come. We had crashed the party of a huge coffee company celebrating the grand opening for their New Zealand location. We told them our story, and the crowd fell in love with us and gave us an invitation to the actual grand opening.
While in New Zealand we also met a gentleman by the name of Will. He was the owner of an HR consultant company, Hello Monday, based in New Zealand. He was amazing and invited us to have dinner with his wife and two beautiful children at their home. Dinner was amazing. We had great conversation, delicious food and wine, and just a beautiful vibe.
I also met a beautiful, blonde, young surfer chick named Mollie from the UK who was so warm. She invited me to stay at her family’s home while I’m in the UK doing volunteer work there for Travel with Pink Purpose. She gave Melissa and me insight on all the top beaches to go to.
The world is so small that on the last day of our trip, on a hike before we went to have dinner with our new friend Will, we saw Mollie and her fiancée. Needless to say, my first Travel with Pink Purpose mission was a success. My next trip is to Canada in June 2019, and I hope you can join me on that adventure.
Going through metastatic breast cancer is hard, but it has given me purpose: to connect the world, serve, and along the way, make new friends. I finally found a way to “love” my breasts and allow them to take me on adventures, share my story, and maybe save a life. I found love in my purpose.
Sherroll, Ms. Travel with Pink Purpose
You can learn more about Sherroll and Travel with Pink Purpose on her Facebook page.