ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - In spite of a morning downpour, a woman, just days removed from breast cancer surgery, inspired, a crowd at the “Sista Strut” breast cancer walk in Forest Park, Saturday.
It was an ode to the power of pink and the fighters/survivors who make it so fashionable.
An estimated 7,000-8,000 people were still strutting long after the rain had stopped; a crowd steeled by the storm of life that is breast cancer; bonded by stories of survival; and sadly – loss.
The “Sista Strut” is an effort to raise breast cancer awareness particularly among African American women -- who are less likely overall to get breast cancer -- but twice as likely to die from it if they do.
Vickey Nelson was walking in memory of her sister, Toni Thomas, who from breast cancer at age 56, in 2011.
“Toni was right with me, right beside me. It’s like, ‘go sister, go’,” Nelson grinned.
And so the soggy marchers to pressed on to add to the ranks of survivors; signs with survivors names and photos lined the walk route.
Behind every sign was a story of courage and answered prayers: perhaps the most amazing story at this year’s event was the story behind a sign that won’t go up until next year.
Strut veteran, Anika Barnes, was at the event 4 days after a mastectomy. Diagnosed in August at age 33, she didn’t realize she’d actually been walking for herself in those past “Sista Struts”, which helped raise her awareness, and save her life.
“They said African Americans, fibroid tumors run in them. So they thought it was nothing. They just thought it wasfibroid tumor. But I kept telling them no, it’s painfuland it’s getting larger,” Barnes said. “I never knew that God would have me standing here saying that I’m a survivor. I never even imagined it.”
Proceeds from "Sista Strut" benefit research at Barnes-Jewish hospital's Siteman Center, along with the Black Women Breast Cancer Survivor Project at UMSL and the Breakfast Club breast cancer support group.