By Southwester Staff

With much of the city and nation shut down, or practicing social distancing, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Thelma D. Jones, breast cancer survivor and founder of the Thelma D. Jones Breast Cancer Fund (TDJBCF), acted quickly to ensure that her support group continued to meet monthly, as it has for the past ten years (except once when the Metro shut down). On Wednesday, March 18, nearly 25 people participated in the teleconference of the TDJBCF’s annual celebration of Women’s History Month, with a focus on Breast and Ovarian Cancer in Veteran Women. 

Guest speakers included Patricia A. Craig, Chair, Veterans Mental Health Advisory Council at the DC VA Medical Center, US Army Veteran & Breast Cancer Survivor; Jackie Iverson, CEO & Founder, Infinity Speaks, US Army Veteran & Breast Cancer Survivor; Denise Taylor, 1st Sgt., US Army (Ret), Outreach Specialist, Infinity Speaks and Breast Cancer Survivor; and Deanna Won, Col. US Air Force (Ret), FDN-P, Founder, Keynotes to Life, International Bestselling Author, Speaker, Ovarian Cancer Survivor & Holistic Health Coach. 

Thelma D. Jones welcomed the participants and acknowledged the work the speakers have accomplished in ensuring our freedom and democracy. TDJBCF’s Strategic Partner Rodney Minor, Executive Producer, Veterans N Transition and TDJBCF Ambassador, provided greetings and assisted in identifying the speakers. Minor hosts a half-hour television program on WHUT-TV that promotes the veteran community. 

Southwest’s own Jan Adams, Chief Master Sgt., US Air Force (Ret.) and President & CEO, JMA Solutions, gave the opening remarks. Adams gave heartfelt congratulations to the speakers and thanked them for their dedicated service to our country. Adams also shared her experience as a caregiver to a close friend who recently passed with metastatic breast cancer. 

Despite a few technical difficulties at the outset, two-time breast cancer champion Jacqueline Beale facilitated a fruitful discussion with speakers Patricia A. Craig and Deanna Won. Speakers Craig and Won shared powerful stories of challenges they endured as veterans with breast and ovarian cancer, respectively. 

Their stories inspired a robust Q&A session around mental health issues and faith and holistic practices. They discussed genetic mutations, effects of working around known carcinogens, and its overall impact later in life. They also talked about the importance of quality health care for active military and veteran women, and being advocates for one’s health. The speakers shared their inspirational stories and work experiences with an eager audience, especially those newly diagnosed survivors who were on the call. The teleconference attracted ardent supporters, an American Cancer Society official, survivors many years along in their journey, a University of North Carolina MPA candidate who writes about veterans, and a caller who was simply interested in the subject matter, to name a few.

Join the TDJBCF for their next breast cancer support group meeting, which will be a virtual event on Wednesday, April 15, at 6 p.m. This special meeting will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Thelma D. Jones Breast Cancer Fund, with Guest Speaker Lucile Adams-Campbell, Ph.D, Professor of Oncology at Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University Medical Center, among other titles. Dr. Adams-Campbell is an internationally renowned cancer epidemiologist and the first African American woman to receive a doctorate in epidemiology in America. In 2018, she was namedWashingtonian of the Year – an honor bestowed on individuals who contribute to the city’s health, welfare, community service, and cultural richness, and who have generally made significant, measurable contributions to Washington, D.C. 

It’s going to be the Celebration of the Year, so don’t miss it! JMA Solutions will be the Platinum Sponsor for the celebration. For information on the TDJBCF, email thelma@tdjbreastcancerfund.org, visitwww.tdjbreastcancerfund.org, like us on Facebook@TDJBreastCancerFund or follow us on Instagram at instagram.com/tdj.breastcancer.fund.

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