Meet Ms. Thelma D. Jones, DC Pink Diva and White House Champion of Change. In 2006, after 33 years of service at the World Bank, Thelma was preparing for a retirement trip when she felt a lump under her arm.
She reflected upon the experience by saying, “I was planning to visit my doctor upon my return. But one trip led to another and in 2007, while away at my family reunion, I felt the lump again,” only this time, it was larger and rock hard. In that moment, Thelma knew she could no longer put off making “that appointment.”
In 2007, Thelma was diagnosed with Stage 3 HER2+ breast cancer, which is a rare form present in about one out of every five breast cancers due to a gene mutation. It was then that her “world started tumbling down” as she discovered HER2+ breast cancers are more aggressive and less responsive to hormone treatment. Thelma was faced with three months of “grueling chemotherapy treatments, surgery, and radiation” to shrink the tumors before doctors could preform a Lumpectomy. During this procedure, doctors also preformed a Lymphadenectomy, removing 34 lymph nodes, 15 of which were cancerous.
Nonetheless, Thelma continued to fight, enduring seven weeks of daily radiation. It was during that time that her doctor asked her to speak with other breast cancer patients afraid of chemotherapy.
She shares that, “From the beginning of my treatments, I vowed to survive the raging storm and turn my challenge into an opportunity to help others.” It was with this declaration that Thelma’s journey began as an American Cancer Society (ACS) Certified Breast Health Educator.
In 2010, just three years after her Stage 3 diagnosis, Thelma created an ACS Breast Cancer Support Group in Southwest DC and was named ACS State Lead Ambassador. Thelma did not stop there and began to learn complementary therapies at Smith Center for Healing Arts as lead community breast care navigator, reaching over 2,500 people.
She shares knowledge gained from holistically managing her Lymphedema, a condition caused by her treatment where painful fluid builds up in her limbs. “My adorable four‐year-old grandson inspires me to keep going in a life filled with meaning, family, and good friends. I would like to see him follow me in this path.”
Today, Thelma’s next chapter includes hormone treatments with side effects that at times make each day a challenge. Yet she continues her work to save lives as a DC Pink Diva, educating women in her monthly support group on the benefits of getting screened early.
When asked what’s next, Thelma says, “Young women. For years the focus has been on older women and it’s time to educate our young sisters early and provide support for young patients as they begin their survivorship journey. And, a trip with my grandson!”