Posted July 25, 2023

Angela Waller
Angela Waller
(Photo Provided)

Seventeen. The number still gives me pause. Seventeen years ago, at the age of 34, I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. After my diagnosis, I immediately immersed myself in the breast cancer space, walks, fundraising, and events of the like. Unbeknownst to me at the time, there was so much more. I would eventually be introduced to patient advocacy, and it changed my survivor story.

I began working with organizations such as Sisters Network, Susan G. Komen, Avon, the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force, now known as Equal Hope, and academic cancer research centers. Each of these organizations provided me with educational opportunities and speaking engagements that would empower me to want to learn more and do more. I learned that there was power in my voice and in my lived experience.

That power eventually found its way to the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, with the U.S. Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program, when I was nominated by the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force to serve as a consumer reviewer. I was blown away by the immediate impact that a consumer reviewer could make, and felt personal experience was equally weighted with that of a Ph.D. researcher. Consumers bring invaluable insight to the process.

My patient advocacy and research experience were the foundation for me to establish my non-profit organization, Elevated Survivorship, which provides a platform for African American breast cancer survivors to use their voices to drive health system change globally. I encourage all survivors to educate themselves and to learn about being advocates to elevate their survivorship. Be the voice of change that will improve outcomes for all women.

The views, opinions, and/or findings contained in this paper are those of the author(s) and should not be construed as an official Department of Defense position, policy or decision.

Last updated Tuesday, July 25, 2023