I didn’t expect to get this disease. Although my mother was diagnosed
with breast cancer in her thirties, I felt that I had mitigated my risk
by following the general guidelines for risk reduction. Babies before
thirty, check. Breastfeeding, check. Organic food, check.
But it happened, and at the age of 31, with my two
small children in my arms, I found myself standing in a shower with my
hand against my breast, listening to the alarm bells sounding in my head.
I knew something was not right, and sure enough, after a multitude of tests and the weary looks and invasive pokes
of many doctors, I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.
When I was given the diagnosis of triple negative, I was confused and
(For more on this topic, check out Tavis’ conversation with Susan G. Komen for the Cure CEO Nancy Brinker.)
Never having heard of this type of breast cancer, my husband and I resorted to Google. A great idea when
you are doing research; not the best idea when you have the diagnosis
yourself. The first article my husband came across was about the high
rate of triple negative breast cancer in African-American women; the next article was about the aggressive nature
of the disease and the rate of recurrence and death among
I was horrified. Being a young African-American
woman, I was devastated to read these studies and find myself perfectly profiled. In those first few weeks following my
diagnosis, I felt like I was living in a tunnel, the world around me
darkened and the only way out was through a foreboding space with but a
glimmer of light at the end to lead me on.
But stumbling through the dark, I called upon the strength of my mother
and the strength of my people, and I reached out and asked for help; and
help arrived in droves. I told my doctors that I knew I could use my
connections and personal experience to aid other young women in their fight against triple negative breast
cancer. From those conversations and out of the darkness that had
encircled me, two flowers began to bloom, and I was strengthened by the
conviction that I would use my experience as a young woman of color battling the disease to reach out and provide
support and encouragement to others.
Exactly one year has passed since
my initial diagnosis, and now that the storm has died down, I can
reflect on my experience, and I feel a sense of calm. The flowers that bloomed out of the darkness are two women, who
happen to have the most lovely and symbolic last name I can imagine:
Lori and Carole Flowers. Lori and Carole lost their sister and daughter
Sheryl to triple negative breast cancer.
Together, Lori, Carole and I founded Triple Step for the Cure in memory
of Sheryl and my mother Pamela and in honor of all the women who have
battled this disease and those that continue the fight.
Triple Step for
the Cure is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Our mission is to raise awareness of triple negative
breast cancer, to support ongoing research into the disease and to
provide emotional and financial support to women diagnosed with the
disease. We also strive to empower women at risk in underserved communities to be proactive about their health to ensure
Too many women feel alienated from the healthcare
system and from caring for themselves. We are advocates for these women,
and we are working to bring to the forefront the importance of overall wellness in underserved communities.
Flowers, was a woman whom I unfortunately never had the chance to meet.
But, I know that she has taken root and is blooming in my life. And my
mother is here too. With their strength, we carry on our mission at Triple Step for the Cure.
Louisa Gloger is a 32-year-old survivor of triple negative breast
cancer. Inspired to fight the disease on a larger scale, she co-founded
Triple Step for the Cure.