Vina Morris is the Founder of AfroPinkR, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing awareness of breast cancer into communities of color. As a two–time breast cancer survivor, she realized her lack of awareness about the disease and learned that Black women have a 40% higher rate of dying from breast cancer than any other race. This discovery drove her to action and became the basis for launching her nonprofit on October 1, 2020.
Vina set out to dispel myths about breast cancer within her community, encourage preventative healthcare and inform of resources to assist with screenings including the MammoGrant fund she co-founded with SurviveHerTM.
She was diagnosed with stage 0 DCIS in May of 2019 which entailed a treatment plan of two lumpectomies, 15 rounds of radiation, five years of hormonal therapy and diagnostic mammograms every 6 months for two years. Three months after completing radiation, Vina received her first diagnostic mammogram. It was abnormal and led to a third lumpectomy. The results revealed new cancer had formed in the same cleared margins. As this was her third lumpectomy and another stage 0 diagnosis, her only option was a mastectomy. Vina made the difficult decision to do a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction for preventative purposes.
According to Vina:
“In June, I received my permanent implants, and on Friday, September 18, 2020, I finished my final surgery, which was nipple reconstruction. I was excited to reach this stage and, once again, I climbed on the table, ready to accept my fate. This time, I was awake throughout the entire surgery, giving me the opportunity to be able to listen to Prince and discuss my next steps in life with my surgical team.”
“It went faster than I expected, and I was able to quickly get dressed and walk out the door. “May we never see you again” was an appropriate send off as I walked out of the operating room, one step away from fully reconstructed breasts. That day, I engaged myself with doing things to celebrate my milestone. I got a mani/pedi and selected fuchsia as my shade of pink. I had lunch and met my friends for a quick dinner prior to the pain meds wearing off.”
“This experience, though scary, changed my life. It gave my life meaning and purpose. Things that were important to me prior to this experience were suddenly trivial, and they brought forth a whole new focus of staying alive and bringing awareness of breast cancer survival to people of color. It is my hope that AfroPink® will help lower the 42% higher rate that women of color have of dying of breast cancer than any other race, and the 2.9% higher chance that men of color have of dying from breast cancer. This amazing feat will be achieved by dispelling myths, encouraging preventative health care, and informing of and providing resources for screenings, and much more.”
Vina is a living, breathing example of the “Early Detection Saves Lives” campaign as her stage 0 diagnoses were the earliest stage of cancer yielding the highest prognosis and a near 100% survival rate.
Vina currently resides cancer-free in Brooklyn, New York where she constantly shares her story of survival to encourage others while also motivating everyone (men & women) to do their monthly breast self-exams and annual mammograms.
For more on Vina’s story and to support her organization as they work to “Dispel, Encourage & Inform” visit www.afropink.org.