Eboney Thompson’s advice to women of color who have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer goes as follows: 1) Get a second opinion; 2) Mindset matters; and 3) Join a group that’s going to be supportive.
Ms. Thompson can attest to the significance of these action items because she was misdiagnosed in 2015 for seemingly race-based reasons, and this led to a costly delay that found her Stage IV cancer spreading to her lungs, bones and other organs by the time she became aware of it. Subsequently, she had doctors tell her she wasn’t going to make it two weeks before she would walk out of the hospital on her own two feet, not looking back.
Among the forces that have helped pull her through are, undoubtedly, her unflappable drive and optimism, and the literally life-altering group for which she serves as ambassador: For the Breast of Us (FTBOU).
The first organization of its kind, FTBOU focuses on creating a safe space for women of color diagnosed with breast cancer and reinforces that they are not alone. The organization has expanded from its two founders to thirty Baddie Ambassadors over the past two years, and in so doing has highlighted the stories and deepened the connection between women across a range of ethnic groups, ages, diagnoses, and treatment routes.
“The name grabbed my attention,” recalled Thompson, an author/speaker and business coach, as she reflected on her introduction to FTBOU. “I noticed that, one, they were very funny. They were very interesting. But most of all, they were very informative, and a lot of stuff that I wish I would have had in the beginning when I was initially diagnosed, they were posting about it.”
According to Cancer.org, Black women are 41% more likely to die from breast cancer even though their incidence rates are similar to or lower than those of White women.
FTBOU aims to inspire Black women affected by breast cancer to “make the rest of their lives the best of their lives.”
With a focus on education, advocacy and community, the organization is a critical resource and, importantly, adds levity to what can be a frightening journey. Social gatherings and even destination retreats have been held for FTBOU’s members, and on October 15, the organization will host its inaugural Sneaker Ball in Houston, Texas, where attendees will pay homage to survivors past and present, raise awareness and raise funds to expand FTBOU’s reach.
“It’s a very creative way of celebrating and honoring the month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” Thompson noted. “It’s a way of honoring women who have come before us, who have survived. We consider whether they’re on this side of the land of the living or whether they passed on; no matter what, they’re survivors.”
The event’s tongue-in-cheek theme is, “We Run This Gala.”
“What do you run?” Thompson rhetorically expounded on the empowering concept. “Do you run your life? Do you run your business? Do you run your household? And what was your motivation for fighting and beating cancer? “
For Thompson, those answers have been clear. Her faith and her four children have been key, inspiring her daily with their love and devotion, whether that’s meant wrapping bandages post-surgery or embarking on a new business venture with mom, like the online shop for beauty products Thompson started with (and for) her daughters.
Given that entrepreneurial spirit and the firsthand knowledge of what one can achieve with a strong support system, Thompson’s partnership with FTBOU is an excellent fit. As an ambassador, she is able to utilize her skills as a social media wiz, businesswoman and motivational speaker to guide women in creating balance in their lives. To this end, Thompson has also established “The Healing Factor,” a group/program geared towards aiding those battling breast cancer with resources that will help them with bills, medicines, rides to doctors, alternative treatments, and help/counseling for their families.
“I don’t believe cancer happened to me, but for me, because it helped me find the person that I was always meant to be,” said Thompson.
“I’ve always been a person who wanted to help people, to inform people, to make the world some form of better, and I tried it in several different ways. But this part of the journey of my life has actually made me hone in on what I really want to do. And it really made me look within to really find myself. So now that Eboney knows who Eboney is, now I can help others find out who they are.”
Today, Ms. Thompson’s cancer is almost completely eradicated. She has self-published 11 of her own books, the most recent being her tell-all testimonial of the beginning stages of her Stage 4 breast cancer battle, entitled, “The Hustle Journey.” Thompson also runs multiple businesses and is very active in her church. She likes to say she is “redefining the face of cancer, one stiletto at a time.”
With gratitude for all of this, Thompson urges women battling breast cancer to join FTBOU’s private Facebook group, where they too can be emboldened to thrive.
“It’s basically like a family on Facebook,” said Thompson. “They can ask any question, they can post anything and don’t have to be ashamed…We encourage each other, we lift each other up.”
Learn more about Eboney’s journey and the important work being done with For the Breast of Us at www.mzhustlenheelz.com and https://breastofus.com/.