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On behalf of The Women’s Challenge, Inc., thank you for joining us at the 3rd Annual Celebration of Life: Women and Girls Committing to Get It! The Women’s Challenge, Inc., is a grass-roots, non-profit organization primarily servicing Harford and Baltimore counties, as well as surrounding areas in Maryland and DC. Founded as a way to creatively challenge today’s women, young and young-at-heart to be healthy, inside and out, we focus on physical, mental and sexual health, diet and nutrition, beauty concepts, financial empowerment and spiritual motivation. This two-prong event is geared toward us as women getting “IT,” whether it’s a side-hustle, being more financially prepared, losing those few extra pounds, or understanding our bodies better. Being “healthy” is so much more than just our internal health; it incorporates being financially, physically and sexually healthy, which promotes the overall healthy lifestyle we are all hoping to obtain. I know I could use a tune up…what about you? This year, we’ve partnered with supporters Walgreen’s and Wells Fargo, who are supporting the “Physically FIT” and “Financially FIT” portions of the event, respectively. Maxine Cunningham, an emotional wellness coach and Ernestine Shepard, heralded as the Guinness Book of World Record’s Oldest Female Bodybuilder, will be onsite to discuss the physical aspect of health. Shannon Baylor-Henderson, “The Start Up Coach,” Nakita Pope, a branding specialist, Deborah Owes, a finance and wealth-building coach, and Stacey Johnson, a financial advisor and vertical marketing specialist will show us how to build start our own business, build our wealth, and make a profit. Baltimore’s own LaDawn Black, author and popular late-night radio personality, along with Lisa Fleet, a boudoir and lifestyle photographer, Nicole Christian, MSN, CNM, and Chandrika Mackall and Shawna Grady, both beauty consultants will dish the dirt on feeling sexy after a medical crisis and bring out our inner beauty with makeovers. The black-tie Gala celebrates and honors our 10 TWC Honorees, who you’ll see featured as never before in the pages of this calendar, letting us all get a glimpse of their struggles as they share their medical journies. My all female band, Les Femmes Totale, will bring the house down with their cohesive melodies. And most of all, attendees revel in the fellowship and networking that has brought us all together for this healthy lifestyle event. The Women’s Challenge, Inc. was once a pipe dream and I am ecstatic to see how much it has grown. Thank you for your support of this event; it is greatly appreciated not only by me, but by many women and girls who getting “IT” today. Thank you, again!


Subira Folami Breast Cancer


“I knew something was wrong a year before. I had this feeling—it was something intuitive that told me, and I ignored it,” says Subira Hill, of her first inkling that something was awry in her body. “When I felt the lump I knew I had to get to the doctor. It was hard and it was painful. It had gotten so large, for me, that you could see it protruding from my right breast. There was nowhere else I could go. I knew that I had to see a doctor.”

January

With two friends by her side, Hill finally made the visit to a doctor’s office where she received her diagnoses. It was December 2011. By January 2012 she was on a surgery table having ports inserted into her body for chemotherapy.“The first four months I went to chemotherapy every Thursday. The last two months it lightened up and it was every other week.” To counter the dreariness and fend off sad feelings Hill says she turned to laughing more. She cut off the news and spent her days watching cartoons. She also took to began yoga classes and started practicing Qigong, or Chi Gung, a type of Chinese healing exercise. Hill said the classes worked better than the support group sessions because she didn’t have to talk and it gave her quiet time to slow down. New Year’s Day

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

“I didn’t have to talk,” she says of the yoga classes that made her feel more comfortable than support groups. “I remember just walking into the support group. I cried on the way in and I cried on the way out. I said it just wasn’t for me and that’s when I found the yoga class.” Though she could never find a support group that gave her what she needed—a sense of inclusions and a break from the depressing reality of her situation—Hill never stopped searching for ways to heal. “My spiritual practice and my incredible community got me through,” she said. “My friends, my family and believe it or not—my Facebook.” After receiving her diagnoses Hill took to social media to find support and survivors from not only the Baltimore area, but from around the world. “I started a YouTube channel to chronicle my journey.” And a long road it was. By July she was back on the operating table having a double-mastectomy completed. “I remember not wanting to touch my breast—being afraid to look at myself. You come home with four drains. It was little baby steps. Standing in the shower and being afraid to have the water hit my chest.” Along the way, Hill learned to take it one day at a time—especially when it came to returning to her once adventurous self. She learned the hard way that women with implants after a mastectomy shouldn’t go skydiving. The clue? She landed and found the implant in the bottom of her shirt. But as with everything affected by her illness— including a 7-year romantic relationship, Hill took the setback in stride. And, while some might have been devastated by the ups and downs that come with a breast cancer diagnoses at 41, Hill, now 43, says there is an upside: she no longer has to bother with bras. As a result of her struggle with breast cancer, Hill, also a Reverend, had even more to add to her testimony when it came to her portion of “Living Without Limitations 30 Mentors to Rock Your World,” an anthology to be released in late December 2013.


Jean English Stroke Survivor


Jean English had experienced headaches for a majority of her life. In fact, so much so, that by age 27 they were a normal occurrence for her—she had learned to just live with them. That is, until doctors told her it was something far more sinister: inside her brain there was an irregular connection between her arteries and her veins—or an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), very similar to the aneurysms growing alongside it.

February

“At 14 years old I would have headaches and my mother would give me children’s Tylenol. It probably was in the process of growing, but I was told that the AVM had been there since I was born, but there was no modern technology then.” For roughly 20 years English went for an annual MRI that showed no change in the AVM that doctors told her would hemorrhage one day.

Valentine’s Day

President’s Day

Barbara Palmer’s Birthday

That day came two years ago in 2011 when she was 47 years old. “It started off like a typical morning,” she said. “I was getting ready to start my day. I had a headache—and they told me when it burst that I would have the worst headache of my life.” English wound up in the hospital where doctors told her the AVM, which was the size of two golf-balls, had finally hemorrhaged and required surgery. “During the surgery they removed part of my brain. I had five small procedures before I had the main brain surgery,” she said. As a result of the AVM being so deep into her brain tissue, English had a stroke that has since left her partially paralyzed— something that has done little to deter her spirit, her smile, or her faith in God. “I do a lot of research and I try to do as much therapy as possible,” said English, when asked how she now fills her days. She also passes on all the advice she can about paying attention to the signs of an AVM or any health issue. “Don’t always think that it’s a migraine or that you’re just too stressed. Awareness is the best thing,” she said. “Had I not gone to the doctor because of the headaches I probably never would have known and it would one day hemorrhage.” “Being aware and paying attention to your body may really save your life. Don’t think that it’s just common—because sometimes it’s not—find out what’s going on in your body.”


CrystanieDa-Ja’Ron Sawyers Multiple Sclerosis


Though the words vivacious, bodacious, and energetic could describe Crystal Sawyers down to the letter, there are three words you won’t find in her vocabulary: multiple sclerosis victim. Known to her fans and throughout the twitterverse as “CrystanieDa-Ja’Ron,” the 31-year-old has let neither the threat of death nor the pain that comes along with living slow her down since her official diagnosis came in December 2011. “About ten years ago during the process of having my son I was paralyzed in labor. They said that it was normal and that it would wear off, but it didn’t wear off,” said Sawyers.

March

GogoNana’s Birthday

Subira Folami’s Birthday

Jean English’s Birthday

For the next ten years doctors gave Sawyers a variety of diagnoses ranging from Parkinson’s Disease to Lyme Disease. Finally, a specialist re-evaluated all the different symptoms and conditions affecting her body and told Sawyers she had multiple sclerosis. As a result of the chain of misdiagnoses, the condition progressed through Sawyers body to a point where doctors could do little for her. “I have gone from a state of being completely paralyzed to where I am now—partially walking on a cane and using a wheelchair.” “My son has had to go through my up and down times with me. He has been there to help me,” she said, citing a time where she fell off the bed and her four year old was able to place a call to 9-1-1 while also praying over her. “Sometimes it makes it hard for me to feel bad as a mother that I cannot take part in everything he does in school, especially when I’ve been stuck in nursing homes.” Sawyers said that though she has felt guilty, her struggles and failed relationships as a result of her health challenges have opened her eyes to a whole different world. “I am not living life as a sick person,” she said. “I am living life to the fullest. I had a stroke last year and I ended up having an out-of-body experience that showed me how to see a lot of things I need to focus on clearly.” Sawyers said it has been family and the strength of friends that have upheld her through points all along the way. “My friends and family have been there to help me with everything from medication to bathing. Before, I was closed in, I would keep everything to myself and I didn’t want anyone around me. I was sick and I just shut the world out—this time, I am out, loud and proud,” she said, clad in her brightest orange, the color of multiple sclerosis survivors. Today Sawyers hosts her own Blog Talk radio show addressing health concerns among the many other pressing issues of society.


GogoNana Goddess Lovelight Ovarian Cancer


GogoNana never saw herself seeking life-saving treatments inside a doctor’s office. An African Priestess, she was used to healing her own body and those of family members, friends, and clients through the traditional African means used by her ancestors— she even had a business dedicated solely to natural healing. “I’ve been a naturalist all my life and I’ve always used alternative medicines,” she said. “That was until cancer struck.”

April

Just weeks before her first retreat with her burgeoning organization, Osun Orgasmic Healing, GogoNana was told that the cells inside her uterus were multiplying out of control. She had a tumor growing inside her body. “My cycle had become very irregular. I was very tired and I felt depressed. I just didn’t have the normal energy that I would usually have.” The year was 2009. By July 2011, GogoNana still hadn’t sought treatment—and her symptoms of spotting, disorientation, and sluggishness had only increased. Instead, she had turned to a process of natural healing. “I waited a year and treated myself with herbs and everything I knew I could do naturally,” said GogoNana. “It didn’t cure me but it did keep the tumor from spreading.” In the end, it would take a near-death experience to change her mind. Though her herbal treatments contained the growth for a year, while on a trip in Kentucky, GogoNana was rushed to the hospital for what would turn into a two-week stay. The cause? The cancer in her uterus had been flooding her blood with toxins.

Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday Day

Easter Sunday

“I had a full hysterectomy. They also took my cervix, my ovaries, my fallopian tubes, and my appendix.” While she received radiation every day for five weeks, it was the vigorous chemotherapy that gave her a completely different type of uphill battle. The first chemotherapy treatment had side effects that lasted for a month,” she said. “I told my doctor if this is chemotherapy, ‘I would rather die.’” Acting as her own advocate, GogoNana recognized that her body would not survive the treatments as prescribed—and, she said “no.” “You have to know your body and know your spirit. I talked with my doctor and he adjusted the treatment,” she said. “They will give you the same dosage as someone who is twice your size and for the same duration. They wanted me to come for five months and I told them no way.” “They gave me a different type of chemotherapy but they don’t tell you that is an option. You have to educate yourself, research and find out as much information as you can about your stage and your grade of cancer,” said GogoNana. “Believe in your heart and in your soul that you are already healed and affirm it every blessed day.” For seven months GogoNana was unable to live alone. Instead she was forced to live with relatives who took care of her throughout the entire time of her chemotherapy and radiation treatments. While in the hospital GogoNana recalled the power of the ancestors she credits with a major part of her healing. “We hear about Native American healings and Chinese herbs, but we never hear about African healing—that has been stripped from us and labeled as ‘wrong,’” she said. Today, GogoNana says that her lesson was to learn how to “honor the allopathic doctors.” She also encourages women to seek first and second opinions with a reminder to never put off treatment.


Tia Timpson Stroke Survivor


What does a stroke victim look like? For Tia Timpson that answer would be a vibrant, determined, 23-year-old- full of life and everything it has to offer. Tia was an average 20-year-old junior at the University of North Carolina when a blood clot made its’ way through a hole in her heart. It wasn’t until the clot started blocking airflow to her brain that Tia even knew she had serious health concern. “One day I was watching football with my friends, and got up to go to the bathroom and I began stumbling. Those were my first symptoms—loss of balance and one-sided weakness.”

May

There were also the classic signs of slurred speech and the day of the stroke, Tia said she recalls waking up with a headache. It took two hospital visits before her initial diagnosis of “altered mental state” changed to a more accurate description: stroke. “Half of my skull had to be taken to save my life,” said Tia, of the initial surgery that relieved pressure on her brain. Doctors closed the hole in her heart, cut to release tendons in her arm, straightening a onceclenched fist, and performed surgery on her leg to correct her walk.

CrystanieDaJa’Ron Sawyers’ Birthday

Tia Timpson’s Birthday

Seven surgeries later, Tia has gone through multiple hospitalizations that have done nothing to shake her faith. “Crossing that finish line and getting back to one-hundred percent is what pushes me every day.” “They tell me in the support groups that it’s okay if I never regain the movement in my hand, but I don’t want that—I know I don’t have to be a hemiplegic and I refuse to accept it.”

Mother’s Day

Memorial Day

Tierre Tates’ Birthday

Thlinette Gilliam’s Birthday

Tia says the support of her family has helped her get through the journey that has shown her just how strong she really is. “Just because I’ve had a stroke doesn’t mean I’m a stroke victim,” said Tia, who in the years since her stroke has gone on to enter and compete in a 5k race. She is steadily regaining her independence and says that her definition of strength has been completely redefined by her journey. Today, Tia is a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association, and though she says she may never physically return to her North Carolina campus to continue matriculation, she has continued to press towards her Accounting degree via online classes. She is steadily regaining her independence.


Shamara P. Bownes In Loving Memory of Britney C. Bownes

Osteosarcoma


Those thinking the bonds of sisterhood are cut short by death need only to take one glance at the link between Britney and Shamara Bownes. Though three years apart, the two were inseparable in their 19 years together—sharing everything from hopes and dreams to secrets.

June

“Britney loved cooking, playing practical jokes, and spending time with family and friends. She thrived on making others laugh, she was the life of the party,” said Bownes, of the sister who had hopes of becoming an elementary school teacher. “We had the ability to make each other feel better,” said Shamara, now 31, of the relationship she had with her sister before Osteosarcoma struck. “For a long time I felt guilty because I couldn’t save her from cancer.” Doctors initially told Britney she had the bone cancer in July 2001. For months she had been complaining of leg pains that physicians dismissed as growing pains. X-rays that would have alerted medical professionals to the grave problem became useless when an error occurred on her films. “They had the wrong name on her X-ray and they never got to tell my mother that she had cancer. Her leg was hurting and her knee was swollen up.” Three surgeries later doctors told the family there was nothing else that could be done. And then came the news that Britney was with child. With cancer in her lungs, pelvic bone, and spine, she would eventually have to terminate the pregnancy. The cancer on her spine had grown from a pinpoint sized dot to size of an egg and doctors told her she would only have 10 months to live if she actually made it to a delivery date.

Father’s Day

“Personally witnessing someone you love— someone you’ve always known to be strong—just wither away is painful,” Bownes said, of her journey as a caretaker. “Britney was always more like the big sister as she was independent and outgoing. I knew in the end she was not happy being incapacitated and unable to care for herself.” With the cancer growing, Bownes said tension began to rise between her sister and family members that had to become 24-hour caretakers. Looking back, she said that as caretaker it is important to always take time out from the situation—especially if you find yourself becoming impatient or angry with the inconvenience of a terminal illness. “You cannot care for someone if you do not take a moment to care for yourself,” she said, when asked about tips as a caretaker. “Be open to any positive support from family, non-relatives, and organizations. Know that it cannot be done alone and it is ok to ask for help and allow others to help.” Though she did struggle with guilt, Bownes said today, she is at peace, and will never forget the life her sister was able to live. “There are many words to describe Britney: beautiful, caring, determined, eloquent, funny, gracious, kind, loving, outspoken, resilient, and strong. If we had to choose one word, however, it would be BRAVE. Merriam-Webster defines brave as having or showing courage. No matter the diagnosis or prognosis she never complained and remained optimistic. Britney fought cancer dauntlessly and with grace.”


JulyMarlene King Breast Cancer


“There were no signs. It was just something they found. When the surgeon did the biopsy she told me it was in the early stages. They didn’t need to do a mastectomy- only a lumpectomy.” The story changed after doctors actually went inside. Three incisions later they told Marlene the news she admits she wasn’t ready to hear.

July

“I didn’t expect this to happen because since I turned 40 I had always done my mammograms. You thinking that once you’re doing all those things this won’t happen. I just wasn’t ready to have the breast removed,” she said. Independence Day

Choosing instead to have chemotherapy once every three weeks for six months and then radiation once a day for five weeks, King thought her troubles were overespecially once the massive side effects of the chemotherapy had subsided. But, then came 2011, and, with it the news that her breast cancer had returned and this time a mastectomy of her right breast was a must. “When it came back it rocked me to the core even more,” she said. “This time I was ready. I told them while they were at it to take both of them.”

Lorraine Bailey-Carter’s Birthday

Through it all, King says the love and support of family has seen her through. She also credits her strength to the many women she now counsels on matters related to breast cancer. Today, King is waging part three of her battle against cancer. In July of 2013 doctors informed her that the disease had metastasized and was growing inside her sternum, the bone in between her breast. Her hope and light, however, have yet to dim. “The God inside of you is the one that is going to help you through this,” said King, who relies heavily on her faith. “It’s not going to be


August Toni Y. Robinson Ovarian Cancer


August

Don’t call it a comeback—call it a conquering, because that’s all that Toni Robinson knows how to do. After beating ovarian cancer to a pulp, the television producer says that faith and favor are her words to live by, though she admits that wasn’t always the case. “My first thoughts were of despair, devastation, and death. I had other people in my family with breast cancer: two cousins, sister, and a mother that passed away in 1989 of the disease.” Robinson’s own healing included extensive surgery and a partial removal of her intestines. “I was in pretty bad shape, but I knew that it wasn’t my time to leave. I had a 14-year old daughter and I did not know what my purpose was.” Today, that calling is all the more clear for Robinson.“My purpose is to help other people fulfill their God-given vision and mission,” she said, adding that “forgiveness for those who have caused hurt” was a key part of her recovery. “Understand that your spirit overrides your flesh,” she advises to others dealing with similar conflicts. “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my faith in Jesus to be my healer.”


Tierre Tates Ovarian Cancer


Doctors told Tierre Tates in 2008 that she would never carry a baby to full term—much less actually give birth to a healthy boy or girl. Yet, in 2009 four-year-old daughter Khloe, was born at exactly forty weeks and today, couldn’t be more full-of-energy. The twenty-seven-year-old was diagnosed on April 26, 2011 with stage one ovarian cancer. A cyst the size of a grapefruit was found one month before her 25th birthday.

September

“I was having all the normal symptoms of ovarian cancer such as cramping and bloating. I thought it just came with being a woman- never a cyst and never cancer.” Tierre had a history of cysts, but the diagnosis was still a surprise. “It crushed me. When you hear ‘cancer’ you think you’re going to die. It hurt, and all I could think was that no one would be here for my daughter. I was an only child and I thought about leaving my parents with no children.”

Labor Day

Shamara Bownes’ Birthday

Marlene King’s Birthday

“It was hard for me because I couldn’t connect with anyone with ovarian cancer. I go to a survivor’s meeting once a month and all the women are older than me and Caucasian.”During this time, Tierre said her support groups and family got her through the period that caused her to feel ashamed because she could no longer have children. “My daughter keeps me going—even when I’m sick and don’t feel like doing everything. She gives me the most love out of everyone.” Out of her support group experiences, Tierre saw a need for her to give back to young black women somewhere to go. Her journey eventually led her to start her own support group titled “Teal is a Big Deal,” after the color that represents survivors of ovarian cancer. “If I can save someone with my testimony then that helps me,” she said. “I want to be able to help and support other women who are dealing with ovarian cancer.” Since the start-up of her organization, Tierre has taken to television shows and radio waves to spread her story of courage and perseverance. As of November 2013 Tierre was given a clean bill of health, and she continues to spread awareness about the condition— especially with women who have been told they can no longer give birth. “I have cancer— cancer doesn’t have me. I don’t let it take me down mentally,” she said. “I just want women to listen to their bodies, check with their doctors, and stay encouraged.”


October Barbara Palmer Breast Cancer


Even a two bouts of Breast Cancer and a double mastectomy couldn’t take the smile off Barbara Palmer’s face. Barbara’s first breast cancer diagnosis was in March 2003, when she was 47. An exam by her GYN discovered a lump in her right breast. Neither she nor her doctor was too concerned, as two previous biopsies had come back negative. However, after a mammogram was preformed, followed by another biopsy, she receive the news that she had breast cancer. “Initially I was in a state of shock and denial, but I made the conscious decision to help other women battle this illness and that it would not defeat us.”

October

Barbara was told by her oncologist that it was possible that with the type of breast cancer she had, it would probably return, and, if it did, it would come back to the same breast. Undeterred, Barbara decided to have the tumor removed, which was followed by eight rounds of chemotherapy and sixand-a-half weeks of radiation therapy. “My final radiation treatment was December 24, 2003—what a Christmas gift,” she remembers. Almost exactly eight years later after an annual mammogram, Barbara received a disconcerting letter in the mail stating that she needed come back for additional testing. When she returned, she was told by the technician that either a build-up of scar tissue had occurred or that her breast cancer had returned, but additional screening would be needed to determine which. Test revealed that the cancer had returned to the same breast—as her oncologist forewarned—which meant that she would need a mastectomy to have her right breast removed. She decided to have a double mastectomy, followed by reconstructive surgery.“I’m surprised at how well I took the mastectomy,” Barbara said, recalling the triple-D cups that have taken a huge weight off her chest— literally. “All my life men talked to my chest, so I was not upset about losing my breasts. The only thing I was upset about was the fact that the doctor’s couldn’t do a tummy tuck on the same day,” she laughs. “Now, I can go ‘bra-less.’”

Columbus Day

Toni Robinson’s Birthday

She then had to make the hardest decision of her life, thus far, which was not to undergo any cancer treatment or take any drugs daily for a number of years. Halloween

“By no means do I recommend other cancer patients follow my lead or not follow the recommended course of treatment by their oncologist. This was a decision that I made for myself and it was the right one for me.” Full of life and energy, Barbara is a survivor that takes it one day at a time, enjoying exercising and keeping up with the ladies in her Baltimore running group, Black Girls Run. Whether she is mentoring other women who are going through a similar journey or sharing her story, Barbara has made it her mission to help as many women as possible get through the struggles of breast cancer with grace, dignity and humor. She encourages cancer patients to embrace the journey and learn lessons from it that will make them a better and stronger person. “Cancer is the beginning of a new and better you,” she says. “Enjoy the journey.”


November Thlinette Gilliam Diabetes and Stroke Survivor


There are few things that can stop Thlinette N. Gilliam from a good run these days. Smooth pavement under her feet, with a heart monitor and distance trackers on, the 38-year old is miles away from where she was a little over a year ago—sick, bedridden, and blind as a result of diabetes and high blood pressure.

November

“I had been experiencing headaches and my stomach wasn’t right. I was so tired all the time that I felt depleted and couldn’t do anything,” said Gilliam, of the initial symptoms that landed her in the doctor’s office. “I just didn’t feel right. I was nauseated and felt like I was about to fall out when he pricked my finger. My blood sugar was 480.” These were the beginnings of yet another medical crisis for the mother of two; the first being a stroke in 2003 that led to a coma. Eventually Gilliam’s diabetes would cause her to lose her sight for the better part of four months—a scare that was enough to shock Gilliam into not only a diet change, but a complete lifestyle change. “Once you add exercise into your life, change your eating habits and eat like you’re suppose to everything will change,” she said, adding that she now drinks at least a gallon of water a day, along with natural fruit juices, and no fried foods.

Veterans Day

Thanksgiving Day

And, Gilliam isn’t the only one that revamped her lifestyle to save her life—her entire family made the change. “My boys help me when I do my crunches. They tell me not to give up— they encourage me to keep going,” she said. To counter all the health issues and subsequent help she needed on a daily basis, Gilliam admits that her first instinct was to push away her entire support system, consisting of her mother, her two sons, and the husband she says has been her “best friend” through it all. “I was being really mean and belligerent,” Gilliam now admits. “My self-esteem was so low and I thought my husband would leave me. I didn’t understand why I was going through this. Now, I know God just wanted me to look at myself and realize I had to stop putting detrimental things into my body.” When it comes to advice to others putting off life-changes, challenges, and goals, Gilliam says it all comes down to persistence. “If you say ‘I can’t stop—I won’t stop’—you will keep going.”


Elizabeth Carter Breast Cancer and Parkinson’s Disease


In loving memory of Elizabeth Carter Neither a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease nor a bout with stage-four Breast Cancer could keep Elizabeth Carter down. At 73, she still had a pep in her step and a glimmer of mischief in her eye.

December

At 70, she was hit with news that both conditions had taken up residence in her body. Having gone to the doctor for a shaky hand, Elizabeth left her appointment with questions, but also with faith. “There were thoughts about where the Parkinson’s came from, since it doesn’t run in my family. But, I wasn’t upset because I knew it was in God’s hands.” Still, the breast cancer that was detected by a mammogram soon spread to her spine and later, her brain. “My doctor is the type of doctor that doesn’t hold anything back,” she said. “He told me that people rarely survive when cancer metastases to the brain. He said most people, at my age, wouldn’t be on the Earth right now.” Specialists were surprised that Elizabeth handled three rounds of chemotherapy and fourteen days of radiation therapy on her brain.

Christmas Eve

New Year’s Eve

Christmas Day

Though she has given up a large part of her freedom, Elizabeth says her diagnosis gives her a lot of time with her two sisters, who have become caregivers as the nerve disorder progressed. “My whole family has always been there for me. My boys, my daughters-in-law…I don’t know where I would be without my family.” Elizabeth said these days she focuses on giving back to the community and enjoying time with the other senior citizens at her local house of worship. “God is number one and I know Him for myself,” said Elizabeth, when asked what keeps her going from day to day. “I listen to my doctors tell me that I’m a miracle, but it’s God that has been with me every step of the way.” Sadly, Elizabeth passed away on May 29, 2013, at home, surrounded by her children, their wives, her sisters, grandchildren and all those who loved her. Her home-going service packed the church to capacity, with many people opting to stand while they paid their respects. Elizabeth was not only a matriarch, but well-respected and wellrevered by her staff members, her church family, and her community. She is loved and will be missed.


A Celebration of Life 2013 HONOREES  

The Women’s Challenge is a vision to creatively challenge today’s women to be healthy, enriching their lives through interactive seminars an...

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