The Jonesboro High School band made an appearance Monday night. Photo by Isaiah Singleton/The Atlanta Voice

Health and well-being coach and plant-based cooking advocate Shelley Cooper with the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) organized a spirit rally at The Battery Atlanta to raise awareness of lifestyle modifications that can help reduce the risks of breast cancer.  

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, about 42,000 women and 500 men in the U.S. die from breast cancer each year and the disease disproportionately affect Black women, who have a higher rate of death from breast cancer than white women. In Georgia, 8,181 new cases of female breast cancer were reported in 2020. 

The event’s message is simple: Eating a plant-based diet and incorporating other lifestyle changes can be powerful preventive medicine. 

The highlight of the event was a special performance by 45 drummers from Jonesboro and Redan high schools. The rivaling drumlines “beat the drum” for breast cancer prevention for the upcoming Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. They were joined by physicians, breast cancer survivors and community members. 

“I think that way too many women, Black and white, get breast cancer every year, so I am motivated to educate people and get people to take control of their own health,” she said. “Also, my motivation comes from my mother who had breast cancer when she was 42 and she was very lucky as she went on to live a long healthy life, but not every woman is as lucky. Also, not just women, but men. 500 men die of breast cancer annually, so it’s important to get together and spread the word.” 

Photo by Isaiah Singleton/The Atlanta Voice

Shelley and her husband, Dr. Neil Cooper adopted a plant-based diet 11 years ago after he had a heart attack. After learning about the supporting scientific literature, she said, the couple went all in on plant-based eating and haven’t looked back.  

“Science has shown that we can prevent and/or treat people who are surviving breast cancer by having lifestyle changes,” Neil said. “If we eat more plants, drink less alcohol, exercise, and get more sleep, it can change the trajectory of breast cancer.” 

“We’re honored to have the Jonesboro and Redan High School drum lines. They volunteered to play and 38 states across the country will be doing the same rally to raise awareness to prevent breast cancer,” he said.  

Today, Neil shares his knowledge of preventive medicine with his clients in a new venture called and Shelley works alongside him providing wellness coaching and education.  

“I believe in the message of plant-based eating and breast cancer risk prevention,” Shelley said. “It’s my passion to help people and this message is very important to our community.” 

The Physicians Committee also said they encourage people to reduce breast cancer risk by following the four-pronged approach: 

  • Eat a whole food, plant-based diet 
  • Exercise regularly 
  • Limit alcohol 
  • Maintain a healthy weight  

 Other tips include:  

  • Fill up on veggies 
  • Eat more soy  
  • Avoid processed meats 

The Atlanta rally is one of dozens being organized across the country in partnership with the PCRM to acknowledge Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  

For more information, visit