On Saturday, October 21, over 100 attendees, including women of color and their supporters affected by cancer, volunteers, performers, and Fenway Health staff, gathered for the 19th Annual Audre Lorde Cancer Awareness Brunch. Every year, Fenway’s Women’s Health Team hosts the brunch as a celebration of women of color and their supporters whose lives have been affected by cancer to share, network, and rediscover their resilience and strength. Started in 1999, the brunch is named in memory of Audre Lorde, a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” She was also a cancer survivor who bravely documented her 14-year battle against the disease in “The Cancer Journals” and her book of essays “A Burst of Light.”
The theme for this year’s event was “Sisters, Survivors, Warriors” to encourage cancer survivors to unite in sisterhood, learn about survival, and rise as warriors through health education and art. The event featured a musical performance by Zili Misik and an interactive dance session by Uprising Dance Theater. Community artists also took the stage, depicting the community’s journey with cancer. Breast cancer survivor Fabiola Hyppolite shared her own story as a survivor and warrior and Ashley Rose Salomon performed a powerful spoken word piece about supporting her sister through her journey.
In addition to art, the brunch also provided health education workshops to empower the community with resources. Tanekwah Hinds, the Women’s Health Coordinator at Fenway Health, and Sarah Peterson, the Senior Community Outreach Specialist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, presented on the disparities and cancer risks that LGBTQ women and women of color face. Ludmila Svoboda, Program Nurse for the Cancer Care Equity Program at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, showed attendees how to navigate the local resources featured in this year’s resource guide. The event also introduced resource tables from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Codman Square Health Center, Cancer Care Center at Boston Medical Center, and Family Van.
During the brunch, Lula Christopher, one of the event’s founders, performed a remembrance ceremony to honor those who we have lost in the community. The brunch also celebrated the accomplishments of Brianna Moody, Girls’ Health Coordinator at Boston YW, and Irvienne Goldson, Deputy Director of Health Services Department at Boston ABCD, as the recipients of the Audre Lorde Trailblazer and Spirit of Fire Awards. This year’s event was made possible with generous contributions from Fenway Health’s own Judy Bradford, the Co-Chair of the Fenway Institute who passed away earlier this year after a courageous battle with cancer.
We’d like to thank our sponsors, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Codman Square Health Center, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute as well as everyone who joined us for the 19th Annual Audre Lorde Cancer Awareness Brunch as speakers, entertainers, volunteers, and community members. We hope to see you all next year!
Check out photos from the event by Tyahra Symone Angus here. You can also access the live recording of the performances on Facebook as well as local resources and survivors stories on the Fenway Health website.