Kathy Kendrix is MORE THAN PINK®and she is using her experience as a talented business owner – or social-preneur, as she prefers to be called – to bring the community together to combat breast cancer.
Kathy’s strong relationship with Susan G. Komen Oregon and SW Washington started in the early 90s when she was a part of the National Black Leadership Initiative-Oregon Chapter (NBLIC), a sub-committee of the African American Health Coalition– just before Race for the Cure made its debut. Now, 26 years later, as the Race evolved into the MORE THAN PINK Walk™, Kathy represented the Community Pillar, for her years of dedication to the cause and work she has put into spearheading one of Komen Oregon & SW Washington’s special programs called Worship in Pink.
“Community is the hub for communication. Its where you turn to get your information; it’s always been that way,” Kathy stated. “Churches make up [a portion] of the community. And Worship in Pink allows us to access that faith-based community, [foster] relationships, and get this important information – information about mammograms and breast health – out there.”
Knowing very well that peer to peer information is more trustworthy and fosters a deeper connection to the cause, Kathy had the idea to bring health messengers from every church together to make up a breast health ambassador board.
“We provide the information and training needed to [our breast health messengers] – not to diagnose, but to know the risk factors. We provide handbooks, speakers, and other materials so they can affectively educate their churches. So they do different breast health activities for the whole month of October!”
In an effort to create an even deeper connection to the faith community, Worship in Pink efforts include the Clergy Breakfast where pastors gather to learn more about the program and the importance of educating the church family and community as a whole.
On a personal note, Kathy has family members who have had breast cancer, some who have passed on from the disease. She said this made an impact on her dedication and love for the program and how she cares for other women going through their journey.
“[At one Worship in Pink event] I remember there was this woman who didn’t fill out her promise card and I stayed there talking with her. She said ‘you know…I haven’t had a mammogram in ten years; I had a bad experience when I went to get one and I will never go back.’ And I said ‘well what if you had someone who could go with you?’ So I went with her and sat in the waiting room while she had her clinical exam and mammogram – her first in 10 years!”
Kathy advises everyone to educate themselves on breast health.
“If there’s something you aren’t sure about, talk to your health care provider. You need to be knowledgeable so you can be prepared to ask questions. Knowledge is power. You need to be your own advocate,” Kathy stated.
Kathy says with so many resources out there, there’s really no reason to skip your mammograms. When she hears about women not going for 10 years, it reminds her of the importance of this mission – of this program. When Worship in Pink reaches a congregation member, it in turn reaches their co-workers, their family members, and their friends.
Kathy hopes Worship in Pink will continue to grow and empower even more lives.
“I would like to see it expand to churches in Gresham and would like to see even more participation. I want more churches to participate and join this core group. You gotta’ keep it moving.”