Houston woman leads national breast cancer organization

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- This is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time to sound the alarm about breast cancer and early detection. However, some communities aren't getting those messages. A Houston woman stepped up to do something about that 20 years ago by launching a now national organization.

When Karen Jackson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993, she found little of the support she now offers women through the Sister's Network Organization. In the African-American community, where breast cancer is more deadly than in others, Jackson started Sisters Network to save lives.

"You can have money, you can have insurance, but if you don't know what do with it, you can have the wrong doctor and the wrong hospital, you're not gonna make it," Jackson said.

Twenty years! So many nonprofits have come and gone over the past 20 years, but this one, based in Houston's Third Ward, has grown to 42 chapters nationwide. This weekend, they hosted their 14th national conference in Houston.

Shawntell McWilliams says Karen's helped her every step of the way after her 2012 diagnosis.

"It's her story, it's my story, it's our story; and she's so survivor so if someone was the CEO of an organization that wasn't a survivor, it wouldn't have the same impact. She's been there so she knows what it's like every step of the way," said McWilliams.

Challenges remain; African-American women generally are diagnosed later, and get inferior medical care, which is why they are 12 percent more likely to die from breast cancer, but Jackson has designed programs to provide education, financial help, family support and now even outreach to teen girls.

"Starting Sisters with no money, I didn't know anything more than any other breast cancer survivor, but if you are determined and you have a true purpose, I don't think there's anything you can't do," said Jackson.

Jackson has shown thousands of women that when the news is the very worst, the very best support can be found in the embrace of a sister. That's Houston Strong.

HELPFUL RESOURCES:

Sister's Network Inc. is committed to increasing local and national attention to the devastating impact that breast cancer has in the African American community. They provide financial help, support, and medical information.

Beauty Beyond Breast Cancer offers wigs to cancer patients who've lost their hair.

The Rose- Board Certified Radiologists, specialized technical staff, two Mammography and Diagnostic Imaging Centers plus a fleet of Mobile Mammography vans offer advanced breast cancer screening and diagnostic services including mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsies and access to treatment to more than 35,000 women annually. Since its launch in 1986, The Rose has served nearly 500,000 patients and is now the leading nonprofit breast health care organization in southeast Texas. To meet the needs of insured and uninsured women (and sometimes men) in the Houston area and surrounding counties, The Rose depends on revenue from paying customers, grants and donations. You can be a part of the caring community that makes The Rose more than a health care provider.

Cured and Company - At Cure & Co. not only will you find your one stop shop for all your needs while undergoing treatment, but you will find a strong support system unlike any other. Through the knowledge we have acquired from our own battles with cancer, we readily share these experiences with you. We are your cheerleaders, mentoring you throughout your journey from the moment that you walk through our doors. Cure and Co. is also a spa. For every spa purchase by someone who is NOT undergoing cancer treatment, they donate a spa treatment to a woman undergoing cancer treatment.

Look Good Feel Better - Look Good Feel Better is a non-medical, brand-neutral public service program that teaches beauty techniques to cancer patients to help them manage the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment. Look Good Feel Better group programs are open to all women with cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, or other forms of treatment. In the United States alone, more than 900,000 women have participated in the program, which now offers 15,400 group workshops nationwide in more than 2,500 locations. Thousands of volunteer beauty professionals support Look Good Feel Better. All are trained and certified by the Personal Care Products Council Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the Professional Beauty Association at local, statewide, and national workshops. Other volunteer health care professionals and individuals also give their time to the program.

Pink Ribbons Project - Pink Ribbons Project successfully uses the arts to help those touched by breast cancer.
Pink Ribbons Project educates and raises awareness about breast cancer.
Pink Ribbons Project helps underserved women receive breast cancer screening and follow-up care through services at clinics and mobile mammography units throughout the Greater Houston area.
Pink Ribbons Project supports its programs primarily through fundraising events.
Pink Ribbons Project. We're the people who bring you Tour de Pink.
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