Some Heroes Have Scars, Some Wear Pearls
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, meet Tammy Lewis, founder of Pink Pearl Hero, a Woodstock-based nonprofit with a focus on increasing breast cancer awareness and the importance of screenings. As a health educator, corporate manager, entrepreneur and now breast cancer “thriver,” Lewis launched the organization, which provides Hero Boxes to women fighting breast cancer.
“The nonprofit started after my diagnosis, and right before my first surgical procedure on Oct. 30, 2018,” Lewis said. “I did not know where the path would lead after that six-hour double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery. Two more operations and 28 radiation treatments later, the Pink Pearl Hero brand has evolved.”
Launching the nonprofit came with telling her story, a part of which inspired its name. Lewis, a runner, had left her pearls on during one of her races, and another runner commented, “Now, that’s classy.” Pink is the official breast cancer color, and pearl came from that brief encounter.
“What took a moment to figure out was how to support and give back. This caused me to take a long look at the things that made me happy during the whole process, and find something that would bring the same joy to other survivors. The one thing I always looked forward to was when a thoughtful friend put together a box of gifts and sent them to me. Bingo! That is how the Hero Box was born,” Lewis said.
“Who doesn’t like receiving good surprises in the mail, especially when you’re in need of good news?” said Pink Pearl Hero board member Melanie Jones-Muhammad.
“Devastated, angry and hopeless were just a few of the emotions I felt when I was diagnosed with cancer,” said Tiana Russell, a Pink Pearl Hero thriver and box recipient. “When I received the Pink Pearl Hero Box, I felt hopeful, grateful and loved to be able to receive this box full of essential items, while going through treatment, to help my mental and physical journey.”
The goal for the Hero Box moving forward is to have at least one spotlight item that comes from a woman-owned business. The brands that Lewis personally used during her breast cancer journey were DemiBlue nail polish, free of 21 toxic chemicals and vegan-friendly, and Becalia Botanicals, a natural skin care line.
“We are working toward a subscription feature and more partnerships to come from amazing women-owned businesses. So far, I have identified three local cancer centers where boxes will be offered, including the one I went to at Kennestone Hospital,” Lewis said.
“Pink Pearl Hero is the epitome of helping supporters stand in the gap for breast cancer awareness,” said Vice President Rhonda Lewis. “They have helped me realize the number of women not screened regularly and, ultimately, the importance of bringing more awareness to women for early detection. As Pink Pearl Hero grows, I anticipate we will work even harder to ensure more individuals have access to screening, specifically those in underserved communities.”
Future plans include a manual, called “Being Your Own Hero,” and a workshop. “There were a lot of strategies I did mentally and physically that helped me through my process that I want to share with all women, not only breast cancer survivors,” Lewis said. “There is data that shows a multitude of health issues that affect women in greater proportions, because we don’t take care of ourselves first. Hence, the word hero in the nonprofit’s name. I just want to bring a little joy and encouragement to (each) woman who is going through her battle, and to let her know she is my hero … keep thriving … and you got this, sis!”
If you know of a woman who has breast cancer, you can sponsor a Hero Box. To learn more, visit pinkpearlhero.com. Or, if you own or know of a woman-owned business that has a product or service for the boxes, please send a direct message to @pinkpearlhero on Instagram and Facebook, or use the Contact Info tab on the website.
– Susan Schulz is a Bible teacher and mentor who lives and plays on the Etowah River in Canton. Connect with her on social media or at susanbrowningschulz.com.