We can all agree that cancer sucks. Brenda J. Phillips Hong, founder/executive director of Brenda’s Brown Bosom Buddies is doing her part to stomp it out. I recently spoke with Hong about Sistah Strut 2017, her event to bring breast cancer awareness, early detection and healthy living to the black community.
Tell me about Brenda’s Brown Bosom Buddies and why you decided to start it.
First, let me begin by saying I am a two-time breast cancer victor, and when I was diagnosed, received treatment and reconstructive surgery, I sought out groups that would assist me in my journey. At the time, I was living in Detroit, Michigan. I was unable to find a support group or an organization that supported my needs as a woman of color, single, with no children. After speaking with others in similar circumstances, we decided to come together. Later, after learning that the need was greater than we actually thought, we formed Brenda’s Brown Bosom Buddies and ultimately became a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization right here in Birmingham, Alabama.
Tell me about Sistah Strut and why you decided to start it.
Sistah Strut began in Detroit, Michigan, by a wonderful Christian woman by the name of Frieda Day Paige. She worked for a local radio station that sponsored the event. I worked on that first committee. Several years later, Frieda decided to move back to her hometown in Tennessee. She wanted to take the Sistah Strut initiative with her, but the radio station said, “No deal…it belongs to us.” I too later moved and brought the concept to Birmingham, Alabama, again to bring women of color together for the sistahood that only we can embrace, feel and know! Sistah Strut is in its sixth year. We’re moving forward and growing in leaps and bounds. While Sistah Strut’s target audience is women and men of color, no one is denied participation! “Sistahs” are defined by spirit, attitude, and intent! The 2017 Sistah Strut is Saturday, September 30, 2017, from 7 to 11 a.m. at Legion Field.
What other events do you offer, and how can people participate in all of your events?
We offer two signature events: Sistah Strut is one. The other is The Pink Hat/Tie Luncheon. This event features honoring women or men who are breast cancer victors and are giving back to the community. The last four events have been sold out. We’ve used various venues: Clubhouse on Highland, Arlington House and Gardens, Vulcan Park and Museum, Summit Club, The Club.
What has been the most surprising thing to happen to you since launching Brenda’s Brown Bosom Buddies?
The cooperation of city and county leaders, as well as the citizens of Birmingham and surrounding areas.
What do you want women to learn from Brenda’s Brown Bosom Buddies?
The diagnosis of breast cancer is not a death sentence!
What is the biggest lesson you want people to learn from your life?
God is not finished with any of us. Stay positive, stay focused, stay prayerful and redemption is in store, along with healing.
What advice do you have for women who are dealing with an illness with no family to support them?
Family is a state of mind…..not a state of being. Seek help where it is. Your church, your friends, Brenda’s Brown Bosom Buddies.
What’s next for Brenda’s Brown Bosom Buddies?
We are prepared to move on wherever God sends or takes us. We are in need of an office and a building to carry on our business and to render privacy for those we service. We await God’s plan to move us forward in the right direction—with the right people. Brenda’s Brown Bosom Buddies needs the help of everyone in order for us to help others. We will move forward accordingly.
Do you have anything you would like to add?
Yes, if we can be of service to anyone affected by breast cancer—whether a patient or a care giver. Contact us. We’re here to help. Mammograms, household duties, transport for breast cancer treatments, etc. call 205-588-0703, leave a message. Someone will get back with you in a timely manner.