Breast Cancer Solidarity Walk
County Execuitve Mike Sanders, County Leigslator Crystal Williams and Kansas City Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner lead the Solidarity Walk.
Jackson County and Kansas City employees release pink balloons prior to the walk. (The balloons were biodegradable.)
County Exeutive Mike Sanders, County Legislator Crystal Williams and Kansas City Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2015
Crystal Williams was told earlier this year that she has breast cancer. She considers herself fortunate.
"I was very fortunate," the Jackson County Legislator (2nd District At-Large) said prior to the county's Breast Cancer Solidarity Walk on Monday. "I was diagnosed early with Stage 1 breast cancer -- with a slow-moving form of breast cancer. A lot of woman have not been as fortunate.
"I cannot feel sorry for myself."
Due to a family history of breast cancer, Williams began undergoing annual mammograms when she turned 40. This year doctors, she said, "saw a change in the film."
Had they not had previous mammograms with which to compare her results this year, Williams explained, doctors might not have detected her cancer for another two or three years. She urged the women at the Solidarity Walk not to delay getting a mammogram.
"It is way scarier to put it off," Williams said, "and then find out you are Stage 2 to Stage 3, than to be diagnosed Stage 1 and be given options."
Williams decided her best treatment option -- again, given her family's cancer history -- was to undergo a mastectomy and have reconstructive surgery.
"I didn't realize until I was diagnosed earlier this year how many women I knew had been through this battle already," she said.
Jackson County Mike Sanders pointed out that "the numbers are grim." -- breast cancer is expected to claim the lives of 40,000 women this year -- but he stressed survivors like Williams give others hope. He, too, encouraged women to be tested early.
"We don't know some women have gone through this because we don't want to talk about it," Williams said. Then she held her hands out in front of her and declared, "Because [breast cancer] happens up here, we don't talk about it. That's crap."
Sanders applauded her bluntness, saying, "I think it's called keepin' it real, and that's keeping it real. Crystal is an absolute fighter and an inspiration to all of us."
For first time, the City of Kansas City joined the county in participating in the Solidarity Walk.
"We do events like these, not so much because we want to stand out here, on a cool autumn day, just to do it," said Kansas City Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner. "We want to send a message. There is still a fight to be had.... We won't be done fighting until we find a cure."
Except for skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among American women. Approximately one in eight (12 percent) women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer at some point.
The American Cancer Society estimates that in the United States in 2015 about 40,000 women will die from breast cancer.