Known affectionately for her big hats, big laugh and big heart, Linda Burrowes is the quintessential volunteer. Her devotion to the breast cancer community, as well as the community at large (Linda also works with the homeless and Operation Smile), is relentless. She has taken her passion for everything pink and her passion for life in general and transferred that commitment to the Komen Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Affiliate and the breast cancer cause.
For her 49th birthday, Linda received the true gift of life— a friend bought her a mammogram. The result of the mammogram was a breast cancer diagnosis. Linda now had a new mission in life: not just to conquer her own disease, but to become a tireless, fierce advocate for others in the same circumstance.
A great idea takes shape
In 1997, Linda formed the Your Bosom Buddies support group. This is a group based on comfort, hugs and emotional expression. It is warm, upbeat, serious when necessary and family-like. It never takes on a clinical air. In other words, it reflects Linda’s personality. Generosity of spirit, dignity and the ability to face hardship and approach it with good humor are characteristics of a hero. Linda not only faces her own journey this way, but also imparts that important message to everyone she touches. Humor is her mantra.
Your Bosom Buddies was the catalyst for the collaboration with the Komen Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Affiliate to create the A Buddie For You program. This mentor program pairs breast cancer patients with trained survivors based on diagnosis, age, ethnicity, surgery and treatment.
The day of Linda’s husband’s death, she was scheduled to represent the Affiliate at a presentation. We all assumed she would cancel, but in her usual unselfish style, Linda chose to proceed. Her commitment to the message superseded her own grief. The very next day she participated in the Komen Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Race for Cure® and staffed a booth in order to be there for any survivors who might need her spirit.
On any given night when others are asleep or watching Jay Leno, Linda can be found in a hospital room with a breast cancer patient that has no family or simply needs the support of someone who knows the pain firsthand. She’ll change her work schedule and give up her only day off to represent the Affiliate at events to teach the message of early detection and promote breast self-examination. She has never said “no” to staffing events, even if it creates hardship for her. We’ve often wished we could clone her.
Finding the silver lining
Breast cancer has definitely changed Linda’s life for the better. She says, “Having been diagnosed with breast cancer is the best thing that has happened to me. After facing the possibility of death, I appreciate every day more than ever, and I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff. All of the women and friends I’ve made since being diagnosed are invaluable.”
Linda has approached adversity with humor, flamboyance, courage and strength and it is those qualities that make her a success at helping countless men and women in their journey. Linda has been an amazing advocate and voice for the Affiliate. Her unwavering dedication and determination to make sure there will be a day when no woman (or man) will ever hear the words “you have breast cancer” goes beyond that of your average volunteer. She is a warrior and it is this tenacity laced with love and compassion that make the Komen Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Affiliate proud to call her “volunteer extraordinaire, sister and friend.”