Buddy Check 25: Lean on your loved ones

By WEEK Producer

April 25, 2014 Updated Apr 25, 2014 at 11:17 PM CDT

Every 74 seconds someone in the U.S. dies of breast cancer.

Janice Parker lived with that reality and wondered if her own diagnosis was only a matter of time.

In this month's Buddy Check 25, she talked with News 25's Gina Morss about confronting that fear and fighting back.

Parker is decorating a pink, plastic tulip in memory of her mother and aunt. She will plant it in Suzy's Garden at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Peoria next month. It is a very public display of what was once a very private family challenge.

"Cancer was a secret in my family. So, when my mom was diagnosed, we were able to observe what she was going through, but didn't have the knowledge of really what was happening and the same went for my aunt," Parker said.

A wide body of research funded by Susan G. Komen, the American Cancer Society and others shows that African American women are typically diagnosed with breast cancer at a later stage and therefore, have a higher death rate.

Janice did not want to be part of that statistic. So, she practiced breast self-exam and because of her family history, started screening mammograms in her 30's.

It was a good thing she did.

"My cancer was millimeters, so small that it would not have been detected by a self-exam. So, I'm very grateful for my commitment to mammography," she said.

Janice had a lumpectomy, radiation and participated in a clinical trial, a choice that very few in the African American community make.

"Doing my research, I learned that there's not a lot of people in my community that participate," she said. "So, how can I help the cause if I can't, you know, contribute to it. So, that was my way of not only doing what was best for me medically, but also to be part of helping my community for the future."

Parker also collaborated with 19 other central Illinois breast cancer survivors on the book Pink Survivors.

"I have no other choice. I have to communicate. I have to tell people that there is hope," she said.

Janice Parker; inspiring a community to speak up and confront breast cancer.

Pink Survivors is now available at local Kroger stores.

And don't forget, you can do your part to support local breast cancer grants and research by registering for the Race for the Cure.

Click on the link above and enter promo code 27THRU27 to pay $27 instead of the regular fee.

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