April Sloan and Louise Johnson standing together

Uplifting co-chairs advocate for women’s health

One is a breast cancer survivor. The other lost her closest friend to the disease. Both are passionate advocates in the fight against breast cancer.

April Sloan and Louise Johnson are serving as co-chairs of An Uplifting Event for 2017. The luncheon raises money to fund free mammograms for women in our community.

“I’m honored to be part of this important event,” said Sloan, who was 36-years-old when she was diagnosed with Stage II, HER2 positive, invasive ductal carcinoma.

“Cancer was something that I had never to talk about before my diagnosis, so this was terminology I’d never even heard of,” she said. “But I soon learned I had an aggressive type of cancer most commonly found in younger women.”

Sloan immediately started treatment. Over the course of 15 months, she endured debilitating treatment that involved surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

“Nothing in my life, up until the point of hearing the words ‘you have cancer,’ could have every prepared me for what I would have to endure physically, mentally and emotionally,” she said. “There were plenty of dark times when I wanted to give up.”

But Sloan, the mother of two children, didn’t give up. She fought cancer and won.

“But I didn’t do it alone,” she said. “The physicians, nurses, technicians, and patient navigators – everyone – at the Bearden-Josey Center for Breast Health was onboard with me. I received outstanding treatment and support and am proud to say that I am now a three-year cancer survivor!”

Johnson’s best friend was Chapman McMeekin, who passed away in 2015 following a lengthy battle against breast cancer.

“Chapman was a loving wife and a devoted mother to two precious children,” Johnson said. “She fought her battle with the greatest level of strength and grace.”

Johnson was close to McMeekin throughout her journey. The experience inspired her to become an advocate in raising awareness about breast cancer and helping women gain access to early screening.

Her plea: “Please listen to your body and be your own advocate. Please get a mammogram. It could truly save your life.”

“An Uplifting Event is a time when we are reminded that being proactive in staying healthy is important.  Screenings such as mammograms literally save lives by catching cancer early when treatment is most effective,” said Kristy Caradori, executive director of Spartanburg Regional Foundation. “We are grateful for all who attend Uplifting and for women like April and Louise who share their stories and inspire others to promote early detection of breast cancer.”

For additional information or to donate, visit RegionalFoundation.com.