By Jae Nash | The Atlanta Voice
If you live in Atlanta and surrounding areas, you have probably heard of Dr. Jackie Walters. Walters, who has also appeared as a cast member on Bravo TV’s “Married To Medicine,” is a Board-certified OBGYN who lives by the philosophy “work hard and play hard.” Walters is also a two-time breast cancer survivor.
To commemorate her survival and to advocate for other women affected by the disease, she founded the 50 Shades of Pink Foundation in 2012. The foundation, which has a mission to “treat the inner and outer beauty of Breast Cancer Warriors,” will celebrate its fifth annual “50 Shades of Pink” gala and fashion show, which will be hosted by actor, author and entrepreneur Hill Harper this Saturday, Oct. 14 at the Atlanta City Hall Atrium.
I had a chance to talk with “Dr. Jackie” — as she likes to be called — about her journey to beating breast cancer and how it led to her starting 50 Shades of Pink.
One thing is certain, Dr. Jackie is an early bird with a vibrant, elegant spirit. Her resilience is inspiring and her determination to bring awareness and support women of color who have been affected by breast cancer. This makes her this week’s Girl Power SHERO!
In 2004, Dr. Jackie was diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer.
“I went in for a mammogram and received a phone call that changed my life forever,” she explained.
On the other side of the phone call, she recalled the doctor saying you have “Invasive Lobular Carcinoma,” sometimes also called Infiltrating Lobular Carcinoma.”
Let me break this down for you all:
“Invasive” means that cancer has “invaded” or spread to the surrounding breast tissues. “Lobular” means that cancer began in the milk-producing lobules, which empties out into the ducts that carry milk to the nipple.
“Carcinoma” refers to any cancer that begins in the skin or other tissues that cover internal organs — such as breast tissue.
Altogether, “invasive lobular carcinoma” refers to cancer that has broken through the wall of the lobule and begun to invade the tissues of the breast. Over time, invasive lobular carcinoma can spread to the lymph nodes and possibly to other areas of the body.
Dr. Jackie received a lumpectomy to remove the cancer. Unfortunately, she also suffered a miscarriage that year.
Despite all she was facing, she fought with tenacity even after losing her hair due to the chemotherapy treatments.
While going through chemotherapy in 2014, she mentioned sitting ng the last recliner in the chemotherapy room cheering all her fellow women survivors up.
“Any physician will tell you that a positive attitude truly has an impact on how well you respond to treatment,” she recalled. “I knew that if I looked good I would feel good and if I felt good my treatment would go well. But many of the women I met during treatment did not have that same philosophy and it broke my heart to see their hope and spirits so low.”
Four years later, she was diagnosed with mucinous cancer in her other breast. This time, she would have to undergo a double mastectomy.
For Dr. Jackie, there weren’t a lot of support groups at the time around to assist with treating the inner and outer beauty of a woman. That is when she got the idea to start a foundation. 50 Shades of Pink Foundation.
“50 Shades of Pink Foundation was birthed out a need,” she said. “(It addresses) a need for women! Women who need support through the chemo, women who need support when they’re weak, women who need support if they lose their hair, women who need a family, a shoulder to lean on and WOMEN Survivors.”
The first 50 Shades of Pink luncheon was held in 2012. Since then, it has grown into what Dr. Jackie has called a Week of Impact, with several events hosted throughout the week.
The foundation also supports other health initiatives, including Alzheimer’s disease, prostate cancer, teen pregnancy and Endometriosis.
Breast Cancer Warriors and supporters will strut the runway this Saturday, Oct. 14th at the “The Great Gatsby” themed 5th Annual 50 Shade of Pink Foundation Gala and Fashion Show, hosted by Hill Harper.