By Aswad Walker
Sisters Thrive, a breast cancer awareness nonprofit, is hosting its first fundraiser, the Sisters Thrive Tour de Pink and 5K de Pink, to raise the funds necessary to accomplish its mission.
“We seek to inspire Black women to check their breasts personally and via mammograms in order to seek early detection of breast cancer, to create a support group community for Black women diagnosed with the disease, and provide women regardless of their place on the breast cancer journey with the skills to thrive and not just survive,” said Sisters Thrive founder Felicia Pichon, herself a breast cancer “survivor/thriver.”
The fundraiser takes place this Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022 starting at 7:30 a.m. at Tom Bass Park (15108 Cullen Blvd, Houston, TX 77047). The Sisters Thrive Tour de Pink will feature a 25-mile and 50-mile bike route, in addition to a 5k run and walk event to raise awareness and funds for Sisters Thrive.
Pichon is all about early detection because it literally saved her life. In August of 2021, Pichon was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer after heeding the advice to check out a lump she felt in her breast but was about to ignore.
“I heard a voice and it said, ‘Check your breasts.’ ‘Check my breasts?’ I said to myself. But I listened… I checked it and felt something. I’m like, ‘I don’t know if that was there before, but do I need to go give these people my money just so they can tell me that it’s another calcium deposit?’”
Thankfully, Pichon mentioned the lump she felt to a girlfriend because she knew her friend would stay on top of her.
“I made an appointment to go in and have a mammogram in July, after feeling the lump in late June. I went in and had the mammogram in July,” said Pichon, who was then diagnosed with breast cancer shortly thereafter.
After the pain of two surgeries, plus receiving the bills from those procedures, Pichon decided that no one should do this alone. As a wife of 28 years and mother of five children, Pichon realized that the burden of a breast cancer diagnosis could crush a family or bring them to the brink of bankruptcy.
“Not only do women not survive breast cancer, but marriages, friendships and bank accounts also become a causality of the disease,” Pichon said. “With the community coming together to support this event, Sisters Thrive is poised to change women’s lives in the great city of Houston.”
Less than a month after her second surgery, Pichon committed herself to creating a nonprofit to equalize the healthcare disparity and increase survivorship rates of Black women, especially those in Harris County.
Black women are 40% more likely to die from a breast cancer diagnosis than their counterparts because of late-stage diagnosis. In Harris County, home to Houston, TX, and the third most populated county in the nation, every other woman that dies from breast cancer is Black.
On top of that, breast cancer brings an increase in financial difficulties. Ponder these numbers:
- 67% increase in financial problems for those without insurance;
- 42% increase in financial problems for minorities;
- 37% of individuals make at least one work/career modification due to a cancer diagnosis; and
- 27% of individuals report at least one financial hardship, including bankruptcy, debt, etc.
“Sisters Thrive encourages Black women to embrace the changes necessary to learn the skill set to thrive and not just survive in the face of breast cancer in four ways: providing financial assistance, organizing support groups, engaging in advocacy, and hosting quarterly wellness retreats. Importantly, Sisters Thrive is dedicated to empowering Black women dealing with breast cancer to take charge of their mental health,” said Pichon.
And for Pichon, this issue is not just personal because of her own breast cancer journey.
“My girlfriend lost her daughter, her 34-year-old daughter, this year in July to breast cancer. She had a 10-month-old baby at the time. She was married. She was living her life, and wasn’t thinking anything was going on. She went in and found out she had breast cancer, and a month later she was dead. I did not want to be the crazy woman running around telling everybody, ‘Check your breasts, check your breasts.’ So I sat down and asked myself, ‘Girl, what are you about to do?’ And my response to myself was to become intentional and deal with my body. ‘Listen to your body, respond when your body gives you signals, listen, take that time to stop. I don’t care what’s going on around you. Stop and really focus on yourself,’” said Pichon.
Pichon also used her energy to give other women the skillset to survive and thrive. But Pichon and Sisters Thrive plan to do even more.
“I really want to build community and support groups so Black women can say the life that was behind them is nothing compared to the life that is ahead of them.’”
Part of that future work, Pichon says, is to be able to give financial assistance to women going through breast cancer and to host healing, supportive retreats and other events.
“I’m going to host health fairs where women can come out, do a little bit of yoga, let their kids run around and talk to them about the journey. They can have that mammogram in the mammogram bus on site after they finish their yoga session. I want to host retreats for breast cancer survivors because one thing I noticed was that in the realm of breast cancer survivorship, our voices are not amplified the way that they need to be. So, I saw a niche in the breast cancer community where I went to retreats and they were not for us or by us. So, I want to bring that to life.”
To register for the Sisters Thrive Tour de Pink (bike ride) and/or 5K de Pink (walk/run), and to learn more about Sisters Thrive, visit http://www.sistersthrive.org, call 832-384-4639 or email email@example.com.