SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA) — Hundreds of people will get together soon to honor breast cancer survivors, and the woman who is organizing it all is an 11-year survivor herself.
It has been quite the journey for Connie Williams.
“In the year 2008, I found a lump. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t tell my husband, didn’t tell anyone, went to the doctor,” she said.
The test was positive. Williams had breast cancer.
“Chemo, radiation, double mastectomy, reconstruction.” When she did tell her husband, she called this an opportunity. She continued to work through her treatments as a school counselor.
“I put out a notice to all my school. I kept working. As a matter of fact, I started chemo, lost all my hair. It’s just hair. But I was losing it and I had a “Get Naked with Connie Party”, shaved it off and we put it on KNWA,” Williams said.
She used it as a chance to model strength and courage; something she had seen plenty of through years of working with Komen-Ozark.
“I would get wigs. I had a blond wig. I had a red wig. I had a short one. I had a little longer one. So my students never knew what was going to show up,” Williams said.
Now she’s an 11-year survivor and still volunteering for Komen-Ozark.
“Our survivors make some of our best volunteers because they’ve been there, they know why we’re doing what we’re doing, and they’re really passionate about why we’re doing it,” Executive Director for Komen-Ozark Lauren Marquette said.
Williams is the chairwoman for the upcoming pink ribbon luncheon; an event that raised $200,000 last year.
“It takes about $150 to get a mammogram. There are women who can’t afford to get one. They can’t afford transportation. They can’t afford to leave their families to do it,” Williams said.
“75% of what we raise stays here for local services and the other 25% goes to our national research portfolio to fund cutting edge research,” Marquette said.
But money is not the only benefit. It is a chance for women to see strong survivors like Williams.
“It is a time for them to come, to be recognized and to see other survivors. There’s nothing like sitting next to a 20-year survivor to make you know that you’re going to be okay,” Williams said.
The pink ribbon luncheon is on October 23rd. For information on how to sign up, click here.