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We all became Breasties the day that we were diagnosed. It’s a club that no one wants to join. But once you find yourself here, know that we are in this together and we share an unconditional love for one another. You are not alone. Below are the faces and the stories of Black Breasties who are in this fight with you. If you want to tell your story and join our Breastie sisterhood, please fill out this short questionnaire.
Nicole is a veterinarian, a mother, and a breast cancer advocate. She was diagnosed at 40 years old with Stage IIb TNBC. She found her lump while breastfeeding her ten month old daughter. At first, Nicole thought that the lump was a clogged milk duct that just wouldn’t go away, but it became increasingly painful.
When her doctor called to tell her she had breast cancer, “it felt like someone socked me in the stomach and the throat at the same time.” It was a shock–she didn’t know anyone who looked like her who had breast cancer. From what she saw on TV and in magazines, Nicole thought breast cancer was an older white woman disease. In the years following her diagnosis, Nicole has advocated for increased representation of Black women diagnosed with breast cancer so that no new Breasties feel alone or unseen in their fight.
Deltra James is a Connecticut based mama of 5 amazing girls who she strives to raise with cultural and health awareness. She’s a chain tea drinker, wig hoarder, and lover of singing loudly and dancing unabashedly. Since being diagnosed with Triple Negative MBC de novo at the age of 32, she has focused on thriving through education, advocacy, connecting and radical self-care. She is passionate about mental and emotional wellness, creative expression as a means of coping, community building and connecting BIPOC women with people and spaces that can care for their whole selves.
She is a member of Cactus Cancer Society’s YAC advisory board, the inaugural class of For the Breast of Us Baddie Ambassador, the Our MBC Life podcast staff and serves as Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator for Project Life MBC.
Breast cancer was always a concern for Valerie Blackwell-Howard—a wife, a mother of three, and grandmother. “My mother had breast cancer when she was 38 years old, but it was a secret in our family. I believe my parents wanted to protect us, as young children, from her diagnosis,” says Valerie, whose grandmother also survived breast cancer.
Because of her family history, Valerie always made certain to schedule an annual mammogram. Then, one year in her mid-50s, her life felt so hectic that she skipped it. Some months later, while taking a shower, she found a small lump in her breast. Valerie was diagnosed with stage II, triple-negative breast cancer in early 2018.
After finishing treatment Valerie’s role shifted when her sister Deborah urged her to attend a conference in Philadelphia for women with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Inspired by the conference, Valerie became involved as a patient advocate and in 2019 received the Courage Award from the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation for her support.
As a sower goes forth to sow, Valerie has an anointing that allows her to minister to those in need of healing of the mind, body and soul. Valerie works with TOUCH to speak directly with and support newly diagnosed Black breast cancer patients.
Valencia Robinson, Ed.S was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer at 33 years old. She was busy enjoying life as a high school English teacher and a mother of a 3, 4, 5, and 8 year old. She continued teaching during chemotherapy and only took time off for her bilateral mastectomy.
As a board member of the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation, Valencia serves on various committees where she visits the state capitol in Tallahassee, advocating for legislation that would make life easier for cancer patients and for funds to continue research and treatment for patients. She has also advocated for similar legislation in Washington DC working along with the National Breast Cancer Coalition.
Valencia works with a myriad of organizations—like The National Institute of Health, National Cancer Institute, and the Oncology Nursing Society—to help improve care for women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. She serves on the triple negative patient advisory board of the pharmaceutical company Astra Zeneca where she advises the company on clinical study design and planning efforts in order to optimize patient experience. She also works with the Department of Defense, Congressional Directed Medical Research Programs—specifically the Breast Cancer Research Program, which challenges the scientific community to design research that will address the urgency of ending breast cancer.
If you want to tell your story and join our Breastie sisterhood, please visit the link below to fill out a short questionnaire.