The Douglas family has had its share of battles. Ahwatukee resident Sabrina Douglas, a two-time breast cancer survivor, is one of many in her family who have come face-to-face with the disease. Douglas’ brother has stage four metastatic breast cancer and her mother lost her battle with stage three breast cancer in 2014.
Despite the challenges that have affected the family, Douglas prefers to channel her energy into motivation to raise awareness and improve education about breast cancer for both men and women.
She will be one of 10 local women who will be telling their stories in the inaugural production of A 2nd Act: Survivorship Takes the Stage on May 22 at Mesa Arts Center.
The women are writing their own scripts to share their journeys and experiences with cancer and how it has impacted their lives and inspired their “second acts.”
“It really helped me to focus on the fact that I do have a second act, that I have a life after cancer,” Douglas says. “It makes me focus on what my second life is and why this is important.”
The performance is intended to celebrate the courage of participants on stage, and to motivate audience members to create their own second acts, regardless of their life challenges.
It also raises funds for micro grants, seed money to underwrite other survivors’ attempts to follow their dreams, give back to the world and honor their cancer journeys.
Douglas was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer in 2008 and her treatment included two lumpectomies and radiation. As an Army veteran who served eight years as an intelligence analyst, she went to the VA for treatment. When she returned in 2010 for a mammogram, she was diagnosed for a second time with breast cancer. After two mastectomies in one year, her doctors say she has been cancer free ever since.
Her conviction to share her story and educate others about why it is important to know the signs and risks of cancer is accomplished through her volunteer work as an ambassador for both Susan G. Komen and Coalition of Blacks Against Breast Cancer since 2011. In addition, she works health fairs throughout the Valley and speaking engagements for the military.
After being diagnosed for the second time in 2010, Douglas conducted her own research about breast cancer and came to a decision to be an advocate of cancer awareness and education for high-risk African American women.
“I realized, I can’t be quiet,” she says. “I need to take my voice out here and let them know ‘I’ve had it two times, have you had your mammogram, why didn’t you get your mammogram?’”
During Douglas’ treatment, she realized her fight to beat the cancer didn’t just involve her health, but also her ability to enjoy life with her family, which involved the birth of her grandchildren.
“I realize I really wanted to be a grandma, I really wanted to see my grandkids grow up. I have a little girl who kind of looks like me, and we’re best buds. I want to see her graduate, and I want to be at her wedding,” Douglas says.
“I want to see their lives, I want to know who they’re going to be as adults, and I can do that by taking care of myself.”
The performance is produced by A2ndAct.org, an unincorporated association and a sponsored project of Technical Assistance Partnership of Arizona (TAPAZ). A2ndAct.org helps celebrate and support women survivors of all cancers through helping them tell their stories for the greater good.
Scottsdale Medical Imaging (SMIL), which provides diagnostic medical imaging services and is fully owned and operated by 37 board-certified radiologists, is underwriting the performance.
In her script for A 2nd Act, Douglas starts her story in an unconventional way.
“I say they call me Sabrina breast cancer Douglas…and I’m not offended by that at all,” she says.
“I’ll touch on the fact that my brother is a survivor… I talk about that because there will be men in the audience … I’ll talk about the volunteering and my grandchildren, that’ll be the hardest part,” she says.
“But they are part of my team. I have one who is in charge of everything pink and don’t challenge him. Don’t say, ‘what are you doing with that pink shirt on?’ It’s for my grandma, he’ll tell you. He’s 13 now, and he’s been in charge since he was 5. It’s awesome to have that kind of support system around.”
Douglas has eight grandchildren in all. She says that, especially her granddaughters, are a big motivation for her to continue to be an advocate of breast cancer education and awareness.
“I volunteer because I don’t want my 7-year-old little princess to ever hear the words, ‘You have breast cancer.’”
See Douglas and the nine other survivors as they tell their stories in A 2nd Act: Survivorship Takes the Stage on May 22 at Mesa Arts Center. Visit A2ndAct.org for more information.
— Contact Alyssa Tufts at 480-898-6581 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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