In 1998, Anita T. Conner was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was initially misdiagnosed for two years by doctors who ignored crucial early signs. Through her own due diligence and self-exams, she discovered a lump late in her 30’s. Her doctor at the time told her not to worry because the lump was not harmful. As the lump continued to grow, it eventually had to be removed. Anita was diagnosed with an advanced stage of breast cancer and immediately underwent aggressive treatment. She knew that she was in for a long, emotional battle.
Throughout her journey, Anita kept the faith that her life was being spared for a purpose. Her vision led her to took on the huge responsibility of helping to save the lives of others. Before Praise Is The Cure ® began, Anita spent time on the boards of national and local Breast Cancer awareness organizations. Like many other industries, she noticed that her community was being neglected with a lack of information and urgency regarding treatment options. Initially, Anita just wanted to share information on available resources with the community. As the owner of her of a very successful accounting firm, Anita had already established relationships with several churches. In order to have a great impact on large numbers of people who are least likely to receive quality information, Anita
created the Praise Sunday Initiative.
The inaugural Praise Sunday event launched on Sunday, October 19, 2008. Anita supported by her family – her husband John, daughter Kerri, son John, Jr. and a few volunteers made powerful presentations to several area churches. Churches were encouraged to distribute literature, resources and begin having open conversations about breast cancer awareness. Historically, churches had shied away from presenting such heavy topics during worship service. Whether it be from lack of information or opportunity, PITC’s small request to dedicate a few minutes during worship opened a floodgate of heartfelt of testimonies! Twenty years ago, people were not open to discussing serious health issues. PITC’s commitment to saving lives has created open lines of communication and support within our community.
Following the success of Praise Sunday, PITC decided to continue expanding its programming through informational events in their community. According to the latest research, black women are 40% more likely to die from breast cancer than other ethnic groups. With this in mind, PITC knew that an immediate change had to be made. In 2008, they launched “The Week of Hope, Health & Healing”. Since its inception, the events during that week have been able to positively affect thousands of men and women in the community.
Another aspect of breast cancer awareness is to provide support and education to the men and children who are also affected by this disease. Though breast cancer rates in men are low, there are rare cases where men can develop breast cancer. This is often a neglected or ignored occurrence, so PITC wanted to bring more awareness to it. Aside from men being affected directly, they are often
husbands, friends, sons, and brothers to women who are affected. In 2009, PITC launched “Real Men Wear Pink”. This was a forum for men to discuss their health issues, and how to further support the breast cancer warriors in their lives. The organization followed up with the Praise Cafe Luncheon that honored Champions in the Fight Against Breast Cancer.
When dealing with breast cancer there is already immense pressure on the individual affected. However, it is important to approach conversations with the family with care and sensitivity. This can be hard, especially with children. In 2010, PITC introduced a children’s festival called the “Maddie Movement”. Maddie is the name of Kerri’s daughter. She’s also the catalyst behind Kerri’s book “My Mommy has Breast Cancer, But She’s Ok”. The festival targets children ages 2-10, along with their parents. The program, in a fun, safe environment, educates children on breast cancer and how to discuss their feelings when faced with difficult situations. The program also encourages parents to talk openly about the challenges they are facing. It’s difficult to find the right words to say when people begin to honestly share their feelings. However, Praise Is The Cure volunteers create an atmosphere that allows for discussions that are less threatening.
With its annual week of fun, educational and inspirational events, along with supportive services offered throughout the year, Praise Is The Cure ® is immeasurably aiding in the fight against breast cancer. It’s incredibly important to change the narrative when it comes to black women and men and health disparities. Let’s break the stigma of seeking medical attention when we suspect something is wrong. Let’s motivate each other to welcome new interventions that can ultimately save lives. More importantly, let’s celebrate our brothers and sisters who have survived and are living their lives with purpose while overcoming unimaginable obstacles. PITC is supported by amazing friends and families, donors, corporate and community leaders, who support the vision of hope, healing and state-of-the art healthcare. The goal is for us to collectively eliminate health disparities in the Black community.