Health Team

Roxboro, Garner sisters team up to fight cancer, serve communities

Often, when breast cancer strikes a family, it brings that family closer--they fight the battle together.

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Often, when breast cancer strikes a family, it brings that family closer—they fight the battle together.

Two sisters—one in Roxboro and the other in Garner—teamed up, not just to beat their cancer, but to reach their under-served communities.

One sister, Kim Lunsford, fought the diagnosis while living in Person County. Lunsford had access to a great resource through her sister in Garner, Shawn Gear, who works for the local chapter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Five years ago, even though breast cancer had not affected her immediate family, Shawn Gear began working for the local chapter of Susan G. Komen Foundation.

She worked on the grants committee, sending money to community agencies who help underserved women.

"That next year, 2012, my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer in her left breast," said Gear, Komen Triangle to the Coast's grant chairwoman.

When the cancer spread to Lunsford's lymph nodes, the then- 45-year-old began a regular routine of aggressive therapies that required driving more than 30 minutes from her Roxboro home.

"I'm realizing, 'Oh gosh. You know, I have to go to Durham for this and Durham for that. You know, what about the people here?'" Lunsford said.

Access and affordability of care was a problem Lunsford had already been fighting. That set Gear into motion.

"It really brings things home, knowing that my sister is part of it," Gear said.

Once Lunsford was cancer free, she got involved in Race for the Cure. Her own team, Kim's Kindred Hearts, has been around now for about three years.

Gear also suggested outreach in Kim's home church with a Komen program called Worship in Pink Sunday. The congregation lit a candle for people who had lost their own battles with cancer.

Lunsford even stepped up to share her story before the entire congregation.

"My whole thing is, I just want to raise awareness," Lunsford said.

The experience brought the sisters even closer together, with a common purpose.

"It has made her a much stronger woman," Gear said of her sister. "I admire her a lot because of her strength."

Gear and Lunsford were recognized as Heroes in Pink by the Komen Foundation.

The local Komen chapter is having its Finding Solutions through Science, Scholars and Survivors Luncheon on Wednesday. WRAL's Debra Morgan will be the emcee, and WRAL's Dr. Allen Mask will moderate the panel discussion.


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