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Breast cancer survivors use experience to help other women

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — On Lora Henderson’s table is a picture of her and her daughter.

And there’s a picture of her grandson.

“He plays football. He lives for football,” she says.

And then there’s the picture of the girls who were there for her when she needed them most.

“I had a lump, they detected a lump,” she said.

A mammogram at age 45 revealed breast cancer.

“It kind of felt like is life over ya know what’s gonna happen?” she said.

But that was just the first time. Seven years after surgery removed one lump, she found another.

I go for my annual and that was good. My breast self-exam was good. About a week later, I’m doing my own self-exams, which I encourage, and I noticed a lump,” Henderson said.

Near the same spot as her first, she made the decision to remove her breast.

“Just getting ready like I was going to lose a part of my body, that was devastating to think that I was going to have to have chemo,” Henderson said.

She lost her hair, but not her purpose.

“I think we were created in life to help one another,” she said.

So when she heard about a program called Sisters in Pink she wanted to get involved. Created this year, the Susan G. Komen Central Indiana program sends out women to talk about breast health and cancer to other women, specifically African American women.

“We’re not diagnosed with any other women but we are 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer because of the lack of care or the stigma and the many things that challenge us here in the African American community,” Henderson.

They talk, and then encourage the women to act, to get mammograms and perform self breast exams.

“I had one woman call me last week. She told me afterwards that she had discovered a lump during her breast self exams, which she had never done. So if it’s just one in each group, that’s one women we’ve saved hopefully,” she said.

A breast cancer survivor helping others when they need her most.

Debra Alexis Jefferson is another breast cancer survivor using her story to help others. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2015 after she noticed something unusual with one of her breasts.

After many tests and x-rays, doctors recommended a lumpectomy, surgery to remove the tumor. She did that, twice. And then had a mastectomy to remove her breast.

It was not something she was comfortable talking about with other people. So last year, when a friend asked if she would participate in Project Pink, a fashion show to raise money for Susan G. Komen Central Indiana, she initially declined.

But then her friend suggested that her story might help others, so she decided to do it.

After hearing from so many other women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, she finally felt comfortable sharing what she had gone through.

Since doing so, she’s been volunteering with Susan G. Komen and other organizations to help support women fighting breast cancer.

“It’s encouraging. I think it helps you to be able to look into the future. You can’t anticipate what’s going to happen, but what you can do is use people that you’ve talked with or that you’ve shared experiences with to say you know what, look at this person and say you know what, I can get through this. I can get through this,” Jefferson said.

For more information about Sisters in Pink, click here.

For warning signs about breast cancer from Susan G. Komen, click here.