Saturday’s Sisters Network 5K raising funds for breast cancer survivors

Regarding this Saturday’s Sisters Network Inc. (SNI) 12th Annual Stop the Silence National African American 5K Walk/Run, health professional Terri Dickerson is not new to this, she’s true to this.

“I can’t tell you how many walks I’ve participated in,” said Dickerson. “I started with Sister’s Network, back in the late 1990s, when I first met the founder, Karen Johnson, at MD Anderson.”

Dickerson’s commitment to the nation’s oldest, largest and only national Black breast cancer survivor organization and leader in the Black breast cancer movement, began like so many other participants—because of a deeply personal reason.

“Well, the walk is important to me because of my family history. My niece, Ronica Dickerson, passed away before her 25th birthday. However, her first diagnosis was when she was 22. Two weeks before her 25th birthday, she was diagnosed with metastasis to two different organs in her body and a reoccurrence. And she passed away before she could be transported to the hospital that was to treat her,” said Dickerson, while fighting back tears.

Dickerson said she also walks for her aunt Gail Hunter, who passed away due to breast cancer, and for two breast cancer survivors in her family: Yvonne Dickerson (aunt) and Krystal Dickerson (her nephew’s wife).

Dr. Alexia McClerkin-Johnson as featured in a 2018 edition of the Defender.

This year’s version of SNI’s 5K will begin at Discovery Green Park (1500 McKinney St., Houston 77010) and go from 9a.m. – 11a.m. And among the many expected participants will be Dr. Alexia McClerkin-Johnson, a wife, mother, physician and avid distance runner with a long track-record of successful marathons.

She, like Dickerson and many others, is crystal clear on her “why” for participating.

“I’m doing it because this one hits a lot closer to home,” said McClerkin-Johnson. “It’s not just another race for me, my grandmother died from breast cancer, and she fought a long, arduous battle. In addition, for my other friends that are battling or have battled with breast cancer.”

Human Resources professional Pamela Walker can relate to McClerkin-Johnson and Dickerson. She too lost a loved one to breast cancer—her mother, Norma Jean Walker.

“The Sisters Network walk means EVERYTHING to me,” said Walker. “As the daughter of a woman who beat cancer many times until she finally succumbed in 2014, I take all efforts to take care of myself, manage stress and build networks with women so they will not go through the cancer journey alone and in silence.

“It’s the hidden monster that resides with so many women who are afraid of losing their breasts, their hair, their families, and (God forbid) their lives. As Black women, solidarity and support are just a few of the ways we love on our community. Walking is our public demonstration of that love.”

Pamela Walker (center) with her sons Matthew (left) and Marshall. Photo by Jimmie Aggison.

This go-round, Dickerson will be participating in the SNI 5K again, but in a different way.

“Normally I would work as a team captain. I started serving as a team captain when we were doing block walks. They wanted to do a block walk in our church neighborhood, so I formed a team and we started doing a block walk. Then we moved to a distance walk,” said Dickerson, who served as a SNI 5K team captain for her church, the Shrine of the Black Madonna, and then for her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha.

“Now, I’m at the place where I’m no longer walk, but I still want to serve. So, I am serving as a volunteer this year.”

Persons who want to participate can register all the way up to Friday, April 22 by visiting Participants can register or make a donation at www.stopthesilencewalk.org. And anyone, whether running/walking or not, can make donations to support the cause at that website, as well.

Registration is $40.00/individuals and $400/team of 10. Funds raised from the 12th Annual Stop the Silence 5K Run/Walk will support Sisters Network Inc. Breast Cancer Assistance Program (BCAP).

Established in 2006, BCAP provides much-needed financial support to survivors and pays for mammograms for uninsured and underinsured women nationwide. To date, the program has provided nearly $1 million dollars in financial support and early detection screenings.

Karen Jackson, CEO Sisters Network Inc.

“Sisters Network Inc. is beyond excited to be back together and united in-person to support breast cancer survivors at our 12th Annual Stop the Silence 5K Walk/Run. We look forward to hosting a safe, fun and uplifting celebration of breast cancer survivorship and increasing awareness about the breast cancer crisis in the Black community,” stated Karen E. Jackson, founder/CEO, Sisters Network® Inc.

“We are grateful our country is healing and returning to some sense of normalcy allowing us to come together. During the last two years, SNI has continued to support our sisters around the United States virtually, but nothing compares to being in-person for sisterhood bonding,” added Jackson.

Since 2010, the Stop the Silence 5KWalk/Run has attracted over 5,000 participants each year from around the nation who come together to walk in honor, memory, and celebration of the women they love who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common cancer among Black women. Black women under 35 are two times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer as compared to white women, and die at three times the rate.

And it’s for this reason, Dickerson hopes other Black people, particularly Black women, support the event and take steps to get mammograms.

“When you compare us to our counterpart, which are white women, they may have more numbers as far as being diagnosed with breast cancer, but that’s because we still have that disparity going on, regarding us being less likely to be diagnosed. What I would suggest is that we talk to our daughters about it at a young age and we started getting our breast exams and mammograms and talking to other women. And don’t forget, we have to talk to our brothers about it also,” said Dickerson.

The event is generously supported by Pfizer, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Eisai, Natrelle and HEB, along with exclusive Radio One partner, Majic 102.1, 97.9 The Boxx, and Praise Houston 92.1 and other media partners.

To learn more about Sisters Network® Inc, please visit www.sistersnetworkinc.org or call (866) 781-1808.