Stories about breast cancer that can inspire and inform

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Dr. Vondalyn’s Story: The Dr. Von Phenomenon

When it comes to advocacy in the breast cancer community, few stories are as inspiring as that of Dr. Vondalyn Wright, affectionately known as Dr. Von. Her breast cancer diagnosis and her unwavering support for others facing the disease have made her an inspiration for people like Princess, who discovered Dr. Von while caring for her grandmother.  

Dr. Von’s advocacy took tangible form when she established the Fight Wright Foundation and began organizing community walks to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research. Despite undergoing her own treatment at the time, her first walk in 2022 saw hundreds of participants and the impact has only grown since. The 2023 walk honored 20 members of the Black community, mostly under 40, with breast cancer, drawing participants from all over Florida. 

One of the attendees, Princess, attended the walk after being inspired by a video she saw of Dr. Von recapping her breast cancer journey. As someone who didn’t know much about her family history, beyond the fact that her grandmother was newly diagnosed with breast cancer at the time, Dr. Von served as an inspiration for Princess to get more involved as an ally in the breast cancer community. “It was a real blessing to so many,” recalled Princess, “everybody just felt so special.” 

“Organizing these events is a huge job, so I really appreciate people like Princess who reach out and say, ‘let me help you,’” Dr. Von said. “For this year’s walk, we’re actually going to have a mammogram truck on-site to do free mammograms for those who need them, which we’ve never been able to do before!” 

Beyond her own foundation, Dr. Von is an avid patient advocate at Moffett Cancer Center. Reflecting on her own experience, she emphasized the importance of having resources and support. “At age 42, I was diagnosed with stage 2 progesterone and estrogen positive, HER2-negative breast cancer, otherwise known as luminal A breast cancer,” she shared. “In my community, breast cancer has always been considered taboo, something you just didn’t talk about. I didn’t even know I had options for things like genetic testing until after my diagnosis. I always thought ‘you get breast cancer and then you die.’ I didn’t know there were all these treatment options or roads to take after your diagnosis, so when I was diagnosed in 2021, I didn’t share anything publicly. I always told myself when it felt right, I would begin to share my story and that’s exactly what I did.” 

After her initial rounds of treatment, Dr. Von sat down in front of a camera, ready to share her story. Through a vlog-style YouTube video, she recapped the news she had learned a year prior, how she had been coping and what was next for her and the foundation she was starting.  

“Initially through my treatment, I was a hermit, but one day I decided to chronicle my journey. It was so freeing,” said Dr. Von.  

Dr. Von’s dedication to advocacy extends beyond her personal story. She encourages others in her community, especially if they have a history of breast cancer in their family like Princess does, to be proactive about their breast health and to utilize available resources. “I feel like I have sort of been given a gift because now I can relate to others who are navigating their own breast cancer experience. I want to make sure they speak up and ask for things that I didn’t even have access to during my treatment because I didn’t know those resources existed yet. I am always striving for them to advocate for themselves,” she shared. 

Dr. Von also advocates for increased participation in clinical trials and research within the Black community. “The Black community needs to participate in research because if we don’t, treatment options won’t be crafted with our community in mind. We need to be included in studies so that we can be a part of the advancements and cures,” she stated. 

For Princess, her journey into advocacy for breast health awareness was jump-started by her mentorship with Dr. Von. Princess and her twin sister were the sole caregivers for their grandmother.

Princess reached out to Dr. Von in hopes of learning more about the disease from someone who had first-hand experience. From there, Dr. Von became a source of hope and guidance, a safe space for Princess to talk about the challenges of caregiving for a loved one with breast cancer and an inspiration to speak up for awareness in their community. “Family history is so important,” said Dr. Von. “When you know your family history, you are armed with the knowledge you need to appropriately monitor your breast health.”  

“Dr. Von would never brag about herself, so that is why I reached out to Komen. I wanted to share Dr. Von’s story with the world because she is a beacon for so many,” said Princess.  

The relationship between Princess and Dr. Von highlights the critical need for community support, awareness and advocacy. “There is an unspoken phenomenon that happens when Dr. Von enters a room,” Princess shared, “her resilience and inspiration exude from every word she speaks and inspire anyone who is lucky enough to listen.” 

The Komen Patient Care Center provides information about breast health, breast cancer, local and national resources and information about clinical trials.   

Call 1-877-465-6636 or email

The Komen Patient Care Center provides: 

  • Information and educational resources about breast cancer screening and treatment options
  • Better understanding of your breast cancer diagnosis
  • Connection to resources and financial support
  • Emotional support
  • Hand-holding through every step of the way throughout your experience

Statements and opinions expressed are that of the individual and do not express the views or opinions of Susan G. Komen. This information is being provided for educational purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice. Persons with breast cancer should consult their healthcare provider with specific questions or concerns about their treatment.