Deborah Branch learned she had ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) in April 2014, four days after her mother passed away. As she grieved her mother’s loss and started her treatment plan, Deborah turned to her church, Hinds’ Feet Ministries in Jonesboro, Georgia, for support and comfort.
“My pastor and everyone at my church just encircled me with love, hope, prayers and encouragement as I was going through my radiation treatment,” Deborah said. “On those bad days that you have when you just feel like giving up, there was always someone at church that I could call and reach out to. They were always there for me.”
Following two lumpectomies and eight weeks of radiation therapy, Deborah was told she had no signs of breast cancer on Sept. 24, 2014, a date she will never forget. The following month, she helped host a breast cancer educational outreach event at her church called Worship in Pink as part of October’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Susan G. Komen® launched Worship in Pink in the greater Atlanta area in 2005 to empower volunteers to become ambassadors for breast health in their faith-based communities. Now a national program, Worship in Pink trains ambassadors to create and amplify the conversation about breast health and Komen’s services and resources in their places of worship.
“Education is such a passion for me because before I got diagnosed with breast cancer, I had four benign papilloma tumors in my right breast,” Deborah said. “I wanted to help in whatever way that I could to spread the message about the importance of screening in my community.”
Deborah fondly remembers her church’s inaugural Worship in Pink event, during which a local speaker shared the importance of scheduling regular screenings for breast cancer, as well as services and resources available through Komen.
“We also had a candlelight portion of the service where we sat in silence to honor those that had succumbed to breast cancer,” Deborah said. “The response from the church was fantastic. I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep that night. After the event and from that point on, we just kept having Worship in Pink every year.”
Worship in Pink provided Deborah with an additional outlet to share her passion for educating people about breast cancer in her community. She found through the years that hosting Worship in Pink events at her church provided an ideal opportunity to introduce fellow members to Komen’s services and resources.
“I found out that people were afraid of that word – ‘cancer.’ So many of them did not know about the resources available through Komen if they were diagnosed with breast cancer, or even if they hadn’t been diagnosed but were searching for information,” Deborah said. “They didn’t realize that there were opportunities for them to get free mammograms, transportation to their doctor appointments, financial assistance and other resources.”
In addition to a closet full of pink outfits that she has acquired over the years to wear during Worship in Pink events, Deborah has developed lasting relationships with other breast cancer survivors and supporters in her church thanks to her involvement with the program.
“Worship in Pink is so very important for our communities,” Deborah said. “It has drawn all of us together in the church. For those of us that are survivors and those that are battling still with breast cancer, we have become one big family now. We all understand that we are there to support each other and to let each other know we can fight breast cancer together.” Take the first step to be a Worship in Pink Ambassador like Deborah for your congregation or community by signing up to access materials, program ideas, resources and more.