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Sista Strut brings cancer survivors and support networks together

People walk the baseball diamond at Louisville Slugger Field during the Sista Strut 3K.
People walk the baseball diamond at Louisville Slugger Field during the Sista Strut 3K.

The air was crisp and cold, but Slugger Field was packed with people. There was music playing over the speakers, and a sea of pink moved and danced to the beat.

People were everywhere: on the concourse, in the stands and of course walking laps down on the baseball diamond.

The Sista Strut 3K focuses on women of color’s connection with breast cancer.

There were several performances including a marching band playing in the stands for part of the 3K.

While having fun and celebrating life was one main focus of the event, outreach, awareness and resource-building were also priorities.

Gilda’s Club, a support organization for people living with cancer, their loved ones and those who have lost someone to cancer, had a table set up at the event to promote their own community-building efforts.

“Our focal point is building up the West Louisville office,” said Tina Lee the community engagement manager for Gilda’s Club Kentuckiana. “It’s important for Gilda’s to make a difference there because cancer affects everyone, regardless of their race, their socioeconomic and all of those things.

Gilda’s Club Kentuckiana is currently partnering with the event beneficiary Kentucky African Americans Against Cancer (KAAAC) to increase awareness and resources for the Black community around cancer.

“We’re trying to increase the awareness about breast cancer, especially in African-America women, we know that they are getting diagnosed at younger ages,” said Virginia Bradford with KAAAC.

Other community organizations including the Black Girl Social Club Louisville Chapter were in attendance to support.

“Black women need to support each other. We have to be there to show we support each other whether you’re healthy or not,” said Alexis Crawford, a club member.

The support and connections that events like the Sista Strut bring to survivors help with destigmatizing the disease. 

“Some people, breast cancer survivors, that I’ve been around or heard them talk, a lot of them was ashamed or thought it was their fault,” said Karen Phillips, an 18-year breast cancer survivor. 

Phillips has been attending the Sista Strut for several years, and this year her sister was on the field walking in her honor.

Phillips was there with her friend and 20-year cancer survivor Leah Josiah.

“It is just good to see so many of them come out because for a long time, I think when some of them had breast cancer, they didn’t feel like letting anybody know,” Josiah said.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.