One woman talks about her dedicated involvement to breast cancer awareness in the community.
The month of October holds national significance in many ways. It is the month in which Halloween, Columbus Day and Red Ribbon Week are celebrated. More importantly, people all over the world honor October as the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Many Americans spread awareness about the disease in their communities. For Felicia McClinton, this month serves as a time for her to advocate for breast cancer awareness and reflect on her defeating breast cancer.
McClinton, who was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after Labor Day weekend in 2010, has been cancer free since March 7, 2011. Coming up on her five-year anniversary of being breast cancer free, McClinton said each year in October she thinks back to her experience of battling breast cancer.
“I always reflect back to when I was going through surgery and chemotherapy treatments,” McClinton said. “I will never forget those experiences.”
Breast cancer awareness began 30 years ago.
In 1985, the American Cancer Society and Imperial Chemical Industries started a partnership to create the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM). The two organizations created the month initially to promote the use of mammograms as a tool to detect breast cancer.
Then, in the fall 1991, the Susan G. Komen Foundation passed out pink ribbons to participants in its New York City race for breast cancer survivors.
From there, in 1993, Alexandra Penney, editor-in-chief of the women’s health magazine Self, and Evelyn Lauder, breast cancer survivor and Senior Corporate Vice President of the Estée Lauder Companies, founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and established the pink ribbon as the symbol for breast cancer.
Thirty years later, Breast Cancer Awareness Month serves as an annual, international health campaign. Breast cancer charities organize the campaign to increase awareness and to raise funds for research.
Today, many people wear pink in honor of breast cancer awareness and find ways to get involved in the community.
Like others who advocate in the community, McClinton said October is a very busy month for her in the community.
“I had a speaking engagement along with the breast cancer Making Strides Walk. I did activities at work where we wore breast cancer T-shirts that were pink, I assisted my job in passing out literature about breast cancer and cancer in general, along with a few other things.”
McClinton, 54, works as senior customer service representative for Entergy Mississippi, LLC.
On Oct. 11, the Jackson, Mississippi native spoke at Zion Travelers Missionary Baptist Church, located near the downtown area of Jackson, Mississippi. The church’s usher board ministry asked McClinton to speak as a breast cancer survivor for its breast cancer program.
McClinton said while speaking about breast cancer to different people, it always makes her think about her personal experience with the disease.
“I think about what I went through and I get flashbacks,” McClinton said.
McClinton also said helping breast cancer patients with the small things is a major benefit for them.
“Go to the doctor with patients. Sit with them. Call them. Encourage them to eat. The small things like this matter the most and do not require financial obligations,” McClinton said.
Then, on the same day, McClinton participated in the Pink the Runway Fashion Show at Thalia Mara Hall in downtown Jackson. All proceeds of the event went to the American Cancer Society (ACS). McClinton’s co-worker, Kimberly Miner, started the fashion show in 2011. McClinton has attended the fashion each year.
Miner has tried to get McClinton to participate in the fashion show since 2011 but McClinton chose not to participate in it. It was not until this year, however, that McClinton participated in honor of almost five years of being breast cancer free.
McClinton modeled a black and white dress. She said participating in the fashion show was a very interesting experience.
“It is different being behind the scenes. I had to have my face made up but I really enjoyed it,” McClinton said. “I know how much effort my co-worker puts into the fashion show.”
On Halloween, in the drenching rain and cold, McClinton participated in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K, a non-competitive three-to-five mile walk to unite and honor breast cancer survivors, raise awareness about the disease and raise money to help the ACS save lives by funding breast cancer research.
Sponsored by the ACS, the 5K took place in downtown Jackson and began at 9 a.m. McClinton said while walking in the rain, she reflected on her breast cancer experience.
“Despite the rain and being wet, I told myself I was going to walk,” McClinton said. “I could not give up. When I had chemotherapy treatments, I did not give up. The elements were not going to stop me from walking. I had to complete the walk.”
Jermaine McClinton, F. McClinton’s son, said seeing his mother walk in the rain motivated him to attend the walk as well.
“She really motivated me to still come out,” McClinton said. “If she is out there in the rain, getting wet without complaining, then I should be able to do it as well.”
McClinton has participated in the walk and has put together a team each year since 2011. Her team, Walk It Out, raised $750 this year to donate to the ACS for research. McClinton said she truly values the work of the ACS.
“I love giving back to the American Cancer Society. I like the things they do to advocate awareness for cancer patients and survivors,” McClinton said. “They use the money for research toward cures for cancer, provide wigs and offer information for women to get free mammograms.”
Many of McClinton’s family and friends dedicated their Halloween morning to support her at the walk and donated financially to her team. McClinton said having her family and friends present to support her was truly rewarding.
“It really makes me feel good. God always puts people in the right places,” McClinton said. “After almost five years, my friends and family members are still supporting me. They always keep a smile on my face.”
Tjuana Carter, a longtime friend of McClinton for 48 years, said she was overjoyed seeing McClinton spread awareness about breast cancer.
“I was very compassionate when Felicia went through her battle with breast cancer,” Carter said. “To see her participate in all of these activities and remain dedicated to the cause is remarkable. Her fight is my fight.”
Jacqueline Jackson, one of McClinton’s best friends from their high school days at Jim Hill, said McClinton has always been a strong community activist.
“Raising awareness about breast cancer is a calling, not just a once a year activity. Felicia is committed to helping women realize that breast cancer is an issue that has come a long way in terms of prevention and treatment,” Jackson said. Her role as an activist comes from her undying will to survive and beat this disease.”
McClinton continues to live her life cancer free and with God first. She continues to encourage others who are battling breast cancer, including one of her good friends. McClinton said through hardships of this nature and anything through life, one must include God.
“I constantly remind my friend and others that through his stripes, we are healed. I remind them to think positive and the problem is gone. It is fixed,” McClinton said. “For we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.”