Sister Space

Thousands support walk, run to curb breast cancer among Black women

By Nadirah Maryam Muhammad | Last updated: May 29, 2013 - 11:54:12 AM

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Bro. Minister Robert Muhammad leads participants n prayer before the Breast Cancer walk in Houston, TX. Photo: Nadirah Maryam Muhammad
HOUSTON (FinalCall.com) - Slogans about survival and pictures of love ones covered the backs of the sea of participants wearing t-shirts in varied shades of pink during the Sister Network Inc. “Stop the Silence 4th Annual National African American Breast Cancer 5k Walk/Run.”

The recent event was held to promote education and awareness about breast cancer and raise funds.

On a beautiful, clear morning, with a light wind blowing in 68 degree weather, thousands gathered for a 9 a.m. Saturday start and end at Discovery Green Park.

Roaring sounds of motorcycles, and a marching band on the sides of the street signaled the beginning of the 5k walk and run.

Robert Muhammad, student minister of Mosque 45 and Southwest regional minister for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, alongside local elected officials was at the front of the line leading the walk.

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Breast cancer walk participants gathered in Houston, Texas including: Houston Mayor Annise Parker (far left), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-TX (third from right), Rep. Al Green, D-TX (second from right) and Student Minister Robert Muhammad, Southwest Regional Representative of the Nation of Islam (far right). Photo: Nadirah Maryam Muhammad
Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Rep. Al Green of the 9th Congressional District, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of the 18th Congressional District in Houston were among officials present.

Rep. Jackson Lee disclosed in late 2012 that she was cancer-free after completing extensive treatment for an aggressive form of breast cancer. Via Facebook, she said, “Glad to be here this morning for the 4th Annual National African American Breast Cancer 5k walk/run! As a survivor of Breast Cancer I am honored to be a part of this event. Thanks to the Sister’s Network for hosting!”

The Sisters Network Inc., founded in 1994, says it is “a leading voice and only national African American breast cancer survivorship organization in the United States.”

“The organization’s purpose is to save lives and provide a broader scope of knowledge that addresses the breast cancer survivorship crisis affecting African American women around the country,” according to the group.

Helen Muhammad, Southwest Region student protocol director, formed teams to participate in the Sister’s Network breast cancer awareness campaign and has participated in the walk for more than five years.

“My niece was diagnosed in 2007 with Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) and each year I walk in her honor and have identified sisters that wish to walk in the honor of their loved ones as well,”  explained Helen Muhammad.

She inspired many Nation of Islam members at Mosque No. 45 to come out and support Cassandra T. Muhammad of Houston who is battling breast cancer.

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Participants walked to honor family members, loved ones and friends. Photo: Nadirah Maryam Muhammad
“This day is significant to me because it just shows the support of everybody,” said Cassandra T. Muhammad. “This is the first time that I really felt the support in dealing with the situation. So this day means a lot. I am very excited to see my family here from New Orleans, my M.G.T family, F.O.I family supporting me, so my mission in this is to spread the word about IBC,” she said.

According to a National Cancer Institute factsheet, IBC is a very rare and aggressive form of breast cancer. “It is more common and diagnosed at younger ages in African American women than in White women. The median age at diagnosis in African American women is 54 years, compared with a median age of 58 years in White women,” the National Cancer Institute reported.

Curtis Murphy of Gold Heart Fitness Center in Lufkin, Texas was walking on behalf of his aunt, who was also walking and is battling breast cancer.

“I thought that this was a great idea that everyone come out here and support one another. Because a person with breast cancer sometimes thinks that they are alone,” he said.

His family came out to show his aunt she was not alone.

When the walk ended, many participants said the effort was well worth their time and deserved support.

“I always wanted to but I let things get in the way. It was a wonderful experience seeing the people with the signs that said survivor. Just pray for our sister Cassandra T. Muhammad, that Allah will heal her. And not only her, all of us that are suffering with that awful, awful disease,” said first time walker Rene Muhammad.

“I came to participate today in the walk, the fight for the cure for breast cancer. We walk and march on behalf, in particular of all of our sisters who have suffered from this debilitating and deadly disease. We march today for our Sister Cassandra Muhammad who is now battling breast cancer. And we are grateful to Allah for allowing us to get us in unity, to pray and to walk for our sister’s cure. And we trust in Allah that will take place,” said Student Minister Robert Muhammad.

Debbie Muhammad was there for Cassandra T. Muhammad and to support other women. “My best friend from high school is also a survivor of cancer that was in the walk today as well. It is good to see all the M.G.T. and sisters across the country that came to Houston to support The Sisters Network,” she said.

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Sis. Carolyn Muhammad, Sis Jovita X, and a participant at the Lupus Walk in Atlanta, GA. Photo: Baddriyyah Al-Islam
“I am just so glad that I could be out here today to walk and it gives you good pleasure to be with people of all walks of life, young, old, strollers, wheelchairs, they were all here. So, to support something like this is just a great honor for me to be out here,” said Mary Muhammad.

“This is a beautiful event to see so many warriors and survivors get together and a cause that affects everyone in the Black community. We know at least one person that has been affected by breast cancer, young and old. And it is beautiful that we can come collectively and give our energy to support the cause to raise awareness, raise money, and to give the sisterly love. It has been a blessing,” added Attorney Sadiyah Evangelista X, also known as “Your Warrior Lawyer.”

“This is a wonderful worthy cause because it helps to fund assistance for sisters that need help in addressing this very, very critical medical issue,” said Tia Simmons.

“It is a worthy cause to bring awareness to what Sister Network Inc. and what it is able to do in the community for African American sisters.”

Ms. Timmons believes the walk will continue to grow, bringing more awareness and hopefully more funding to Sister Network efforts. For more information about The Sister Network, visit http://www.sistersnetworkinc.org.

(Nadirah Maryam Muhammad is a Houston-based writer and was a Final Call Writers Workshop participant.)

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