Team WHIP to walk on Saturday in West Point
When Narfunda Ross became a breast cancer survivor, she knew she wanted to give back.
“People fear the treatments and preventative meds because of the side effects, but you don’t know until you go through it,” she said.
She wanted to encourage women that every person responds to treatment differently and to do what is necessary to live.
That’s why Ross started the Team WHIP Breast Cancer Walk five years ago. WHIP stands for Working to Help Those in Pink. The walk is this Saturday, Oct. 26 at 8:30 am.
“We hold it at the end of October because we don’t want people to forget going into November,” she said.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but Ross’ mission is year-round.
“My purpose is to cross paths with other survivors, people who may not want to talk about it,” Ross said. “Not all cancer diagnoses are a death sentence. You can’t go into it with fear. You have to go into it with faith.”
Ross comes from a family of fearless survivors. Her mother is Valley Times-News columnist Pearlie Gibson, a 13-year survivor of a lumpectomy and radiation, and her sister is a five-year survivor of a double mastectomy. Ross also had a double mastectomy.
She endured six rounds of chemotherapy and lost her hair. She’s an 11-year survivor.
One of Ross’ main concerns is getting information and encouragement to women fighting to get past the fear, so proceeds from the walk go to local women who have been newly diagnosed with breast cancer.
“We want to help them and be that support,” Ross said.
Through the year, WHIP hosts a support group at the Bradshaw library, though the group does not meet this time of year. It starts again in January, meeting monthly on the second Saturday at 10:30 a.m. They will be planning their next big event, a luncheon for survivors scheduled for February. For now, WHIP has the walk.
This year’s walk has two routes – 1.5 and 2.5 miles.
“We do the walk to promote exercise, too,” Ross said. “There’s a significant link between exercise and [helping minimize] cancer. It starts at John Hoggs Pavilion, goes into Lanett, and back to the pavilion for a brief ceremony for survivors and caregivers.
The walk has no registration fee, but donations are accepted. Participants can make donations the day of the walk and register on site. The walk starts at 8:30 a.m.
“Wear something pink,” Ross said.