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Meet the Susan G. Komen Florida 2022 Warriors In Pink

Warriors in Pink

The 2022 Susan G. Komen More Than Pink Walk is Saturday, January 29th!  This year’s event is hybrid – You can walk in-person at Meyer Amphitheater or virtually from wherever you are!

Meet the 2022 Warriors in Pink

Warriors in Pink demonstrate the disease can strike anyone, regardless of family history, age, ethnicity, race or gender.  They will carry their message of breast cancer awareness to their own communities and take action collectively to create a groundswell of support in South Florida for Komen’s 360-degree approach to the fight against breast cancer by taking action, focusing on research, connecting people to care, and impacting communities in need.

 

Sherri Boyce, 57, Jupiter: Sherri is a Certified High School Counselor and Director at Glades Central Community High School. She grew up in Hicksville, NY, and has been living in Florida for 20 years. She has two wonderful children, a daughter and a son, who are both in their early 20’s living independently. Sherri enjoys paddling water sports, walking, crocheting, and reading. For Sherri, being a Warrior in Pink means the world: “ I feel that being chosen as a Susan G. Komen Warrior in Pink is a huge, amazing honor. I am incredibly thankful, humble, grateful, and proud to be a Warrior for 2022.”

 

More questions with Sherri:

How do you hope to be an inspiration to others? 

I have been a member of the Jupiter Medical Center “Living With Breast Cancer” Support Group since June 2014. I hope that I have been able to help others in this support group. My goal and mission is to be an inspiration to others by raising awareness about Aesthetic Flat Closure (AFC) as a viable option for women who are facing mastectomy due to a breast cancer diagnosis, genetic testing results/prophylactic mastectomy, “explanting” due breast implant illness (BII), discomfort, or due to Capsular Contracture. It is important to be aware that reconstruction surgery is not the same as breast augmentation surgery.  Women must be made aware of all of the facts and make an informed decision about their choice of surgery, whether the choice is Aesthetic Flat Closure or Reconstruction.”

In thinking about your cancer journey, what are you most thankful for?

I am most thankful for the kindness and selflessness of others who have helped me during my breast cancer journey.  Simply stated, so many people have been incredibly wonderful to me which has positively impacted and inspired me.  I am truly grateful for my entire family, my medical and support teams at Jupiter Medical Center and at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, my friends, my Dragon Boat team – Lighthouse Dragons, my support groups, Aishel House, my Rebbetzin, and so many others as well. It brings tears to my eyes when I think about how lucky I am to have had the benefit of so much good will and support from others.

 

Sara Duff, 36, Loxahatchee: Sara is a Human Resources Manager for Buckeye Plumbing, Inc. She was born and raised in Loxahatchee where she still resides with her husband of 14 years and two children, ages 11 and 6. When she isn’t working, Sara loves spending time with her family, traveling, boating, and playing volleyball with her daughter.

 

More from Sara:

What does it mean to you to be chosen as a Warrior? 

It means that for this time and place my small story this time of trauma, confusion and unknown can be celebrated for the difficult time it’s been. That for one minute the awkward I’m sorry’ s and the wow your so young’s are just observations that the grit and mental toughness the sheer determination the WARRIOR like qualities are bigger than all the sad parts to this journey. And showing others that toughness can give them hope that they can bring those same qualities to those in their life battling or for their selves one day if they ever have to go down this road.

Can you tell us about a moment or gesture that stood out to you during your cancer journey that was particularly helpful or meaningful to you?  

I was in my 2nd or 3rd week of chemo and just reeling from all the side effects and all the changes to my body and my chemo nurse said I know someone who you need to talk to and she introduced me to Kristy and she sat with me and was open and kind and shared all the secrets she had learned along the way that made those changes bearable. She shared in the middle of treatment when I know she was tired and would have probably enjoyed resting and  napping but she opened her heart and in that moment I felt like I could get to the next week. That was a game changer.

What gave you the strength to fight your cancer?   

The LOVE of my husband and kids (only 5 and 10) at the time of my diagnosis. The faith that was instilled in me by my parents that this can’t be the end, but just a part of my life. The hope that I could be the woman that they could say walked the walk and talked the talk. When things got tough she didn’t give up.  To show them I could still be all the things I am to them and there are to me through this that I don’t have to diminish just because my body sucks right now.

What would you say to someone who has just found out that they have breast cancer? 

Feel the feelings ALL of them and don’t be sorry if that makes people uncomfortable. There were times early in my diagnosis when you just feel like you can’t be here, this didn’t happen and then you’re angry why me, what did I do wrong? And family and friends might be around trying to be supportive but you are unable to go straight to Helen Hopeful, you are beat up and need some time to be sad, you just need time to allow your mind and heart to get around this life changing diagnosis.

Tell us about your family.  How were they supportive to you? 

My family has been great I know there were plenty of times I couldn’t put words into the days or feelings. My husband was sad with me and then rose with me every week he helped me on Thursdays he devoted to my cold caps before during and after chemo to help keep my hair and would also buy me flowers on this day and it felt like even though I felt ugly from the inside out he still saw beauty and my daughter would just grab my hand if I seemed overwhelmed or lost in emotion. My son was just perfect he never once treated me like I was different his complete innocence to the pain was sunlight. My extended family knew Thursdays sucked and would just send kind and positive messages. That they were so consistent with the weekly reminders meant a lot as well.

 

Chakela Montgomery, 40, West Palm Beach: Sadly, Chakela lost her battle with cancer on Thanksgiving Day 2021. We are all devastated but hope her story helps to  promote screening and early exams so that she may save lives even though she lost her ownChakela was a schoolteacher and entrepreneur who was born and raised in West Palm Beach, FL. She was the mother of four children – three sons and one daughter – two in high school and college and the youngest two in elementary school. Her family describes her as an amazing mother, daughter, friend, and sister who loves helping others and attending her sons’ football games.

Chakela Montgomery

 

 

Sharon Perry, 52, Jupiter: Sharon has worked in Human Resources for Florida Power and Light for the past 25 years. She was born and raised in Williamsburg, Virginia, and moved to Florida at age 15. She and her husband, Scott, have 5 children ranging from 25-33 years old and 1 grandson. Sharon lives in Jupiter Farms with her husband, one of her sons and their two dogs, Sassy and Elsa.

 

More from Sharon:

What does it mean to you to be chosen as a Warrior?
I am honored to be chosen as a warrior, I am living proof of the concepts of Komen.  Awareness, early detection, and continuous research.  Being selected to share my story to encourage others can truly help save lives.

Can you tell us about a moment or gesture that stood out to you during your cancer journey that was particularly helpful or meaningful to you?
A very pivotal moment for me in my journey was when my oncologist told me my cancer was very aggressive and that 5 years before the treatment and potential outcomes were very different.  Now there was a drug we could use before surgery that has been very effective in treating my type of cancer.  It wasn’t available just 5 years prior.  I knew then that the continued research to end breast cancer was real and progress was happening and now I was able to benefit from it.

What gave you the strength to fight your cancer?
After 12 years as a single mother, I met the man of my dreams, we were engaged to be married in March 2017.  It was one month before our wedding when we got my diagnosis. I felt blessed to have this amazing man by my side, along with my children and friends around me, I took it one day at a time.  Sometimes it would get overwhelming, but those around me would lift me up to continue fighting.

Have you had the opportunity to help others who have breast cancer?  How do you hope to be an inspiration to others?

I found a community of breast cancer survivors all around me, people I never knew came forward to be supportive.  I learned so much from each of them.  I have found that everyone’s journey is different, everyone’s treatment is different.  Now I can be a source of comfort and support for those who are diagnosed.  I try to help them take one day at a time.  I try to help them find the blessings in little things and keep hope and enjoy each of the good days.

What would you say to someone who has just found out that they have breast cancer?
“Don’t let your fears fill in the blanks”… you have so many questions but it will take time for the doctors to collect the information and develop a treatment plan.  Sometimes the mind goes to worst case scenario.  Keep a positive attitude, get educated from a reputable source – don’t just google for answers.

Tell us about your family. How were they supportive to you?
My husband, Scott and I were engaged when we received my diagnosis with 1 month until the wedding.  We joke that he had a few weeks to run before we got married, in sickness and in health.  He married me anyway, we went to St Lucia for our honeymoon.  We returned on Sunday and started 10 hour chemo session on Monday at 8:00 am.  He was with me at every appointment, every chemo, every side effect, every surgery. He held me when I cried and cheered me when I passed a milestone.  And he is still my cheerleader today.  Together we have 5 children ranging from 25-33 years old and 1 grandson.

 

Kelly Stephens, 35, Boynton Beach: Kelly is a cosmetologist who recently went back to school to get her bachelor’s degree in Business Entrepreneurship and Innovative Leadership and will graduate in May 2022. She moved to South Florida in March 2020 after living in Western North Carolina for 10 years. She is an animal lover, having volunteered with rescue organizations in NC, and is an avid scuba diver, currently working towards getting her master diver certification.  Kelly said: “It’s an extreme honor not only to be nominated but selected to be among these other strong warriors. Being nominated means, I touched someone in such an impactful way that they thought I would make a great ambassador for Komen. Being chosen as a warrior means I am now gifted the opportunity to touch the lives of others and become a beacon of hope for others who are fighting this same battle.”

 

More on Kelly: 

I am 35 years old and am an avid scuba diver. I am currently working towards getting my master diver certification. Diving with the sharks and turtles, among the coral and shipwrecks, is one of the most thrilling experiences. I am a huge animal lover and volunteered with the rescue organizations back in NC.

I found my first lump doing a self-exam at the age of 33. After surgeries and treatment, I was in the clear until I found my second lump during a self-exam just 18 months later, and it ended up being IDC stage III. (Self-exams are so important!!) I rang my third and final bell in August, and it feels so good to be done!

I started school in Jan 2019, the month before my initial diagnosis, and will graduate in May 2022! I have battled cancer and fought through treatments for 2 out of 3 years back in school. I am incredibly proud of myself for sticking to school despite the obstacles thrown my way.

My goals are to do something with cosmetology and something with breast cancer. I would love to have a mobile salon where I pair up with cancer centers and hospitals to offer complimentary wig styling, haircuts, and beauty tips to make warriors feel more confident when they look in the mirror and struggle to recognize the person staring back. Instead of letting cancer hold my goals hostage, I am using it to make new goals. My mission is to give back in a way that I know how to. With a cosmetology degree and soon a business degree, I am excited to see the doors open for me.

 

Danette Volmy, 38, West Palm Beach: Danette is a nurse living in West Palm Beach with her parents and two children, 12-year-old son, Damari, and 10-year-old daughter, Zari. Danette is the youngest of 8 children, has a passion for people and loves helping others.

More on Danette:

What does it mean to be chosen as a warrior?

To be chosen as a Warrior mean to me someone who has survived the challenges and obstacles in life giving all they got. Strong courageous, phenomenal and having faith like no other that anything is possible.

Can you tell us about a moment or gesture that stood out to you during your cancer journey that was particularly helpful or meaningful to you?
A moment that stood out to me is when my football Flex Family came together and surprised me with a donation and encouraging words. It stood out because they really didn’t have to do it but to see is come together like a family really spoke volume. One of the team mothers even got her job to donate and be a part of the family. It was a right on time moment, when you think you’re in a fight alone God find some way to remind you that you’re not alone in the fighting journey.

What gave you the strength to fight your cancer?  
God , my children, my ancestors, and my Team Demolishes family and friends keeps me fighting and pushing daily.

Have you had the opportunity to help others who have breast cancer?  How do you hope to be an inspiration to others?
I have had plenty of opportunities to help others dealing with cancer even before my journey started. I believe God was just preparing me and throw my compassion and helping ways God has shown me favor. I love to inspire others to help them know they also aren’t along in the fight and know there are plenty of new resources and research available for cancer patient. And I love to help out others when I can.

What would you say to someone who has just found out that they have breast cancer?
I would say to them always get a 2nd opinion, don’t just believe in the report of the doctors trust in God as well. Do your search your research. Try to bring a family/friend to your appointments, or record because the information given can be alot to take in and retain at the very moment. Surround yourself with positive people with positive energy.

Tell us about your family. How were they supportive to you?
Oh my God my family has been a true blessing to me on this journey from day one. They take timeout to go to doctor appointments, help with the children when it comes to picking or dropping them off from school or practice. When I need a place for rest after treatments, they make sure I’m comfortable and getting plenty of rest. Their calling or texting me periodically to send me words of encouragement or just simply checking up on me to make sure I’m fine. They also have been a financial blessing to me during this time.