Stories about breast cancer that can inspire and inform

Blog  |  Newsroom

Worship in Pink: 26-Year Survivor Serves as Breast Health Ambassador for Her Church

Charlotte Scarlett learned she had Paget’s disease one week before Valentine’s Day in 1997, sharply shifting her focus from having a romantic dinner with her husband to how she would deliver the news to her two teenage children.

Paget’s disease of the breast is a rare carcinoma in situ in the skin of the nipple or in the skin closely surrounding the nipple. She had a radical mastectomy to remove the breast and underwent six chemotherapy  treatments before being told she had no signs of breast cancer. 

“There was no way to save the breast back then,” Charlotte said. “After I was diagnosed and as time went on, I felt that there was a need to get the word out to women that were not aware of all the resources that were available.”

Charlotte approached a fellow breast cancer survivor at Emmanuel Community Church in Conyers, Georgia, where she had been a member since 1995. Having initially connected with Susan G. Komen® through the Race for the Cure, Charlotte again turned to Komen in search of a way to initiate breast health outreach in her church.

Charlotte’s search led her to Worship in Pink, a volunteer-driven educational program that empowers men and women to become ambassadors for breast health in their faith communities. Ambassadors create and amplify the conversation about breast health, breast cancer screening and Komen’s services and resources in their places of worship.

After attending an orientation session though Komen, Charlotte approached her pastor  with a plan to host a Worship in Pink event at the church during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. Emmanuel Community Church held its first Worship in Pink event in 2012 – with a pink-themed resources table set up in the church lobby and breast health information shared during the service – to an overwhelming response from church members.

“We found out that there were other breast cancer survivors in the church, or supporters or caregivers, and they wanted to become involved as volunteers, too,” Charlotte said. “We were grateful to accept them because instead of just having a Worship in Pink event on one Sunday of the month, we were able to have it every Sunday during the month of October.”

In addition to sharing vital information about breast health with her faith community, Charlotte said the program’s greatest impact has been providing men and women with a support network through the church.

“Now, when a woman is having some doubts or fear of what’s going on with the changes in her body, they know that there’s somebody there at the church that they can go to who knows what they’re going through,” Charlotte said. “I try to do the best that I can to give them support and point them into the right direction.”

Charlotte’s outreach through Worship in Pink continues year-round, as people in her church now know they can approach her for guidance on how to get connected to resources such as breast cancer screening and financial assistance through Komen.

“People contact me for help because they remember Worship in Pink at the church,” Charlotte said. “One woman contacted me to help her get a mammogram because she was no longer insured. I was able to help her get connected to the right resources so she could get her mammogram.”

Take the first step to be a Worship in Pink Ambassador like Charlotte for your congregation or community by signing up to access materials, program ideas, resources and more.

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.