October may be Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but for Rhonda Julian, a designated timeframe is not necessary for her to focus her attention on spreading knowledge about the disease.
Julian, who graduated from Norwood High School in 2001, was diagnosed this April with Stage II Invasive Ductal Carcimona breast cancer. Since this time, she has discovered many people have begun following her journey, and has made it a point to use this to her advantage in shining light on what most would see as a dark period in their life.
“I’m very adventurous, and I take this whole experience as an adventure,” Julian said. “I’m going to be OK, and my mission is to show other people they’re going to be OK, too.”
Julian first noted the opportunity to use the Internet as a platform in raising awareness for her cause when she began posting about her experiences on her Facebook page and received enormous feedback.
“People were telling me I was inspirational,” she said. “They were waiting on me to post [my next update] and would say, ‘I hope you’re saving these. I hope you’re writing a blog’.”
That’s when she started her website.
Julian’s site, www.paintherpink.com, is a window into her life since her diagnosis. The site includes blog updates, information on upcoming events, as well as links to causes she is passionate about.
One link on her blog that Julian is particularly dedicated to is titled “Letter to the Representative.” This link, which is a letter to Norwood Representative John Rogers, outlines Julian’s desire to push for breast cancer-related bills to be supported, and ultimately passed.
While the letter includes six bills, Julian has steadfastly moved forward with the H.R. 80 Triple Negative Breast Cancer Research and Education Act of 2013, which refers to breast cancers whose cells are negative for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and the HER2 protein on their sources.
“I called my town rep, and he said he’d love to support me,” Julian said. “I also decided to follow up and spoke with the American Cancer Society on their position. I don’t know how long [the process] will take, but I don’t mind pursuing it.”
Throughout all of this, Julian has still made time to raise awareness through local events. When she heard the town had rallied to plan a fundraiser on her behalf, which will be a Halloween-themed costume party held at the Norwood Elks Hall on October 26 at 7 p.m., Julian says she was grateful, and also wary of accepting money on her behalf.
“They had already planned it, and I thought, ‘If I’m too proud then what example am I setting for other women in my situation?’”, she said. “I decided I should earn it. Accept it and pay it forward.”
That’s when Julian put together her Paint Her Pink Project. The event will be held on October 20 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at The Hampshire House (formerly Cheers) in Boston.
The idea for the formal event, backed by Dana Farber, came when Julian decided she would paint her head pink. After being contacted by the project coordinator at Dana Farber, she got the idea to paint other women, too. The event will include a live photo shoot, performance and documentary for those who attend.
“I want to bring out the beauty in breast cancer,” Julian said.
Another Halloween-themed fundraiser called ‘Mischief and Mayhem’ will be held the night prior at the Water Club at Marina Bay in Quincy to raise money for the event.
Julian, who remains positive about her course of treatment, says she feels honored her website is there to be able to help other women who are battling cancer.
“I want my platform to be as useful as possible,” she said. “I want my positive personality to seep into every single person. I want this to happen while people are looking.”
For further information about Rhonda Julian and upcoming events, visit www.paintherpink.com