We Are Surviving
There are two things Americans most commonly celebrate in October. Halloween and Breast Cancer Awareness. If you were like me growing up I was more interested in candy and stealing tootsie rolls from my little brother, than wearing pink or ribbons of any kind. I soon grew out of stealing candy from my brother and my awareness for the what the month of October represented matured as well. Even though October is synonymous for the breast cancer awareness, the path of a fighter isn't beholden to any specific month.
Aware: knowing that something (such as a situation, condition, or problem) exists.
Awareness: knowledge or perception of a situation or fact.
The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) was founded in 1985 by the American Cancer Society and at the time, a pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries. The aim of this partnership was to promote mammography to detect possible cancers in earlier stages to fight breast cancer more effectively.
Fact: About 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. And about 1 in 36 will not win their fight.
What can you do? Share your story.
In 2012 I received a call from a friend anxious to tell me about a young woman, Portia Hammond, living in Atlanta, GA. Portia was described to me as a woman passionate about building a platform for all women to share their physical and emotional challenges to help educate and empower those around them about issues difficult to discuss. Portia initially founded I Survived My Period (ISMP) www.isurvivedmyperiod.com to dispel taboos relating to the female body by sharing stories from women all over the country as well as her own. Realizing she struck a cord with the art of storytelling she decided to launch a broader platform that will allow women to share all of their survival stories in one place.
This month, We Are Warpaint would like to congratulate Portia Hammond, for the launch of her new platform, We Are Surviving, www.wearesurviving.com.
WARRIOR SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW:
Warpaint: What is the purpose of I Survived My Period?
PH: To educate, encourage and empower women through storytelling.
In 2010, I underwent ovarian cyst removal surgery. Every symptom I experienced prior to that led me to a complete state of confusion and frustration. I had no idea what was happening to my body, but I knew something was wrong. What was worse, I had no one to talk to who identified with my fear and anxiety. After consulting with my doctor, family and friends and numerous websites, I finally learned what was happening to me. A cyst the size of a grapefruit had grown on my left ovary and had to urgently be removed. After healing from surgery, and enduring extreme emotional menstrual cycles, I was able to look back at my experience and say, "Wow it's over and I survived. I wonder how many other women can identify with what I just experienced."
A year and several Facebook posts later I Survived My Period was born.
"If one women watches a survival story featured on my website and finds even the slightest amount of hope...then I've done my job." - Portia Hammond
Warpaint: Who is the person(s) responsible for shaping the character you are today?
PH: My parents. Though my mother and father divorced when I was very young, I have to attribute who I've become to them. The older I get, the more I find that I am a healthy balance of both my parents. My mother is a 'go-getter', a planner, organized, yet passionate. She's a hard worker with immense determination. My father is a true 'social butterfly', exudes charisma, loves talking to strangers and is by far the least judgmental person I know. You can tell him anything. Between the two of them, I've learned that hard work truly does pay off, be good to those who are good to you and most importantly, keep God first in everything you do.
Growing up wasn't always easy, but the one thing my sisters and I knew for sure was that we were loved. So, yes, my parents (in addition to my extended family) are responsible for shaping the character that I am today.
Warpaint: You recently expanded I Survived My Period to We Are Surviving. What is the goal with this expansion and how is it different than I Survived My Period?
PH: After blogging for a couple of years about the female reproductive system and sharing various survival stories and general information, I decided that there's more that I want to discuss regarding women's issues. I wanted to expand.
I wanted to feature *breast cancer survival stories, sexual assault survival stories, heartbreak survival stories...the list goes on. The goal is to establish a circle of women, even strangers, who offer positive encouragement to a woman currently walking in shoes familiar to themselves. As women, we can achieve anything individually, but imagine the heights we can reach if we do so together.
*Visit We Are Surviving's website for their first feature story - I survived breast cancer: Janae's Story
Warpaint: What is the one thing most people don't know about you?
PH: I have an overwhelming addiction to Bridezillas. While I am not a huge fan of 'reality' television, there is something about the drama in this show that I am glued to. Truth moment: I watch it on repeat on Netlfix.
Warpaint: What is your favorite quote?
PH: I have so many, so I'll list 3:
"Being realistic is the most commonly road traveled to mediocrity." - Will Smith
"It's the magic of risking everything for a dream that nobody sees but you." - Million Do
"I Cheated on my Fears. Broke Up with my Doubts. Got Engaged with my Faith. Now I'm Married to My Dreams." - ASAP Rocky
Warpaint: Your bravery in sharing your survival story has created dialogue amongst literal strangers. Who are some of the people you've reached through the stories of I Survived My Period?
PH: This is where the beauty of the Internet comes in. I have received messages from women all over the country commenting on stories they identify with. As a result, they usually end up sharing their own personal story. It's those very comments and stories that keep me motivated, keep me blogging and keep me determined. With the launch of We Are Surviving, I'm looking forward to even more.
Warpaint: What song or artist are you currently listening to?
PH: I'm currently listening to Janelle Monae. Not only is her music inspiring and diverse, but she embodies the complete characteristics of a role model for women and young girls. She is an 'out of the box' thinker and constantly challenges social norms. Bravo, Janelle. I am definitely a forever fan.
Warpaint: Where do you see We Are Surviving in 5 years? Who do you hope it reaches?
PH: In 5 years We Are Surviving will have become the premier online website for women empowerment through storytelling. Stories will be featured from all over the world. Another goal is to garner the attention of celebrity women who have survival stories to share. The blog will highlight women and girls doing amazing things in their communities as well as highlight initiatives taking place in other countries. Over the next 5 years, We Are Surviving will have helped and encouraged women and young girls all over the country. What else could I ask for?
Warpaint: What is the one thing you want people to take away from We Are Surviving?
PH: You are not alone! That's what I want women to take away from We Are Surviving. I want women to know that someone, somewhere, knows EXACTLY how they feel about whatever it is they're going through.
I have to take a minute and thank my storytellers. It takes a lot of bravery to be completely open about experiences so personal. But their stories and their vulnerability do not go unnoticed. We are and will continue to encourage women...one story at a time.
Warpaint: If you could design the next Warpaint color, what would it be?
PH: I wouldn't design a color necessarily. More like an embellishment that would work for any existing color. That said...GLITTER. Always sparkle, Survivors.