Left to right: Michelle Banks and Tanzanika Lillard are both honored with photos in the “Shades of Pink” exhibit.


Staff Report

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – When each woman featured in The Spady Cultural Heritage Museum’s upcoming exhibit received the news that she had breast cancer, her response to the challenge was unique, yet similar.

Every woman faced the threat with faith, courage and strength.

Paying homage to the significant impact that cancer has among people of color, a special exhibit, entitled “Shades of Pink,” featuring the personal journeys of nine, local African-American women, will be on display Oct. 19 through Nov. 11, 2017, at The Spady Museum, 170 NW 5 Avenue in Delray Beach.

Designed to help the public recognize October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month and celebrate survivors, the exhibit is a joint project among Susan G. Komen South Florida; the West Palm Beach Chapter of The Links, Incorporated and The Spady Museum.

In addition to the nine survivors, two women who lost their battles – Lea Jefferson and her mother, Freddie Jefferson – will be remembered. Photographed by Delray Beach-based photographer Michiko Kurisu, women featured in the “Shades of Pink” will be:

Melissa Archer Dixon of West Palm Beach; Shawntoyia Bernard of Boynton Beach; Karen Alleyne-Means of Wellington; Mary Dent-Maher of Boca Raton; Michelle Banks of Jupiter; Linda W.

Long of West Palm Beach; Sybil Mainor Mitchell of Riviera Beach; Shirley Laraine Cook-Cox of Royal Palm Beach; and Tanzanika Lillard of West Palm Beach.

“As President of The Spady Museum and an active board member for Susan G. Komen South Florida, I commissioned both organizations to work collaboratively to make an impact in the female African American community,” said Gillian Knowles. “I placed a call to friend, Kalinthia Dillard (of the Links, Inc.), and asked her to join this initiative.

“This resulted in the ‘Power of Three’ with the event being coined the name ‘Shades of Pink.’ Shades represents the various spectrum of women impacted by breast cancer. It is my deepest desire to see bridges of support being built between or adorn Spady Museum ganizations, like Komen, The Spady Museum and The Links Inc., joining forces to educate women and save lives.”

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the African American community. While incidence rates are lower, African American women suffer significantly higher mortality rates; 41 percent higher than their Caucasian counterparts.

This trend is the result of compounding social, cultural, financial and geographic barriers, according to the Susan G. Komen African American Breast Health Care Initiative.

“We are excited and honored to partner with both the Spady Museum and The Links to further raise awareness in the community,” shared Jill Weiss, board president for Susan G. Komen South Florida.

“Triple negative breast cancer is prevalent and aggressive in African American communities and this exhibit gives us the opportunity to put a face to the disease. These individuals who have shared their stories with us are courageous for allowing us to tell their story in such an intimate way. I know without a doubt that they will help others.”

Part of the exhibit will include statistics and information focused on breast cancer within the African American community and how Komen South Florida is working to address this audience.

“We are so happy to be working with two outstanding organizations during Breast Cancer Awareness Month to educate African American women on the importance of having regular mammograms and monitoring their health,” said Dillard, president of the West Palm Beach Chapter of The Links, Incorporated.

“We know that Black women are more likely than other groups to be diagnosed at later stages and have the lowest survival rate at each state of diagnosis. They are more likely to be diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. I hope that each woman who views this exhibit walks away with more information about risk factors, prevention and the importance of early detection; feels encouraged and empowered by the stories of diagnosis and survival; and understands that other women in this community are here to support and lift her up if she discovers that she or her family member is the one in eight women diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime.”