This year alone, Delaware is expected to have 770 newly diagnosed cases of breast cancer. Out of those new patients, 120 will die from the disease.
For one motivational speaker and breast cancer survivor, the mission is to motivate some of those women who will be diagnosed.
54-year-old Joyce Dungee Proctor of Townsend was prompted to schedule a mammogram after her pit bull, Onyx, brought her attention to a small area of her breast after he kept jumping and hitting the same area. Joyce later received the devastating news from her doctor confirming what she feared.
“I got the call on a Thursday, and the first thing I thought about was my family. I froze and my whole life flashed before me. I have a son and a husband. What are they going to do without me?”
For some women, the words “you have breast cancer” can seem like an instant death sentence. Joyce Dungee Proctor saw the diagnosis as a new season in her life that she could use to motivate others.
“My message is a message of hope, courage, resilience and empowerment, and I’ve made a choice to maximize my full potential, and continue to move forward and pursue my goals in the midst of everything that’s going on,” she said.
Proctor shared how her own book, “The Breakthrough Book”, a personal writing tool for creating the life you want, and overcoming challenges in the midst of adversity encouraged her throughout the difficult chemo treatments.
“One Friday night, I had a very challenging chemo night so I pulled my manuscript out, and started to revisit what I had written to encourage others, and in the midst of all that, my breakthrough was that it encouraged me,” said Proctor. The diagnosis also gave her the final piece that was missing to complete the book, and the motivation to publish it. The book is filled with inspirational quotes, and it’s a journal of sorts where one can journal their progress along the way.
This experience also inspired Proctor to become unstoppable, a word she uses to describe a person who makes a divine choice to move forward, and continue to pursue the desires of their heart. Today, she is an advocate of breast cancer research who decided to use some of her writings to motivate an even bigger audience, people living with breast cancer. She has even hosted a fundraiser for Wilmington’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K Walk that will take place October 11th.
“What’s unique about Delaware is specifically our Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event, the largest breast cancer event in the state. So that brings in not more funding, but a great level of awareness throughout the state of how important breast cancer awareness is,” said Lindsay Freeman of the American Cancer Society.
Last year over six thousand people participated in Wilmington’s Making Strides event where $430,000 was raised to go toward breast cancer research. The goal is to raise even more money on Sunday where people can still sign up even on the day of the event.
There is a higher percentage of women who are diagnosed after the age of 55, but there are women as young as 30 and even younger that have been diagnosed with breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, there tends to be higher diagnosis among white women and higher death rate when it comes to African American women.
“My number one recommendation always to just to talk to your doctor because again, family history comes into play, your lifestyle comes into play, all these different things come into play, your doctor would be the best person to really give you the best advice about how you should stick to having early detection and staying healthy,” said Freeman.
Meanwhile, Joyce recently celebrated her last breast cancer treatment and is planning a vow renewal ceremony with her husband of 25 years. “When you get the diagnosis, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your life, while you’re still here. Do what you can to find the joy and courage to get the support. People will welcome you with open arms,” said Proctor.
As for her book, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to continue the fight against breast cancer. She even plans to print some of the books in pink.
Tune into WHYY’s First on Friday at 5:30 p.m and 11:00 p.m for the television version of this story where Joyce talks more about motivating women diagnosed with breast cancer.