HEALTH

'D.C. Pink Divas' spread awareness about breast cancer to city's girls and women of color

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) - There are women literally dying in the shadows of our nation's capital, in Washington, D.C.

Shyrea Thompson believes, in order to save women in D.C. from breast cancer, you've got to educate and support.

Valerie Holtz is one of those survivors.

"I was lost," Holtz said, of the day she was diagnosed with breast cancer. "I was totally terrified."

Holtz was diagnosed in 2010. While she went through her treatment, Etta-Cheri Washington was right by her side.

"It was great to know that you had someone that cared about you and supported you like they all did," Holtz said.

The group of women decided it was time to do their part in the fight against breast cancer - it was then, that the D.C. Pink Divas was born.

The divas travel to where women of color in D.C. work, live and pray, sharing information about breast health, as well as cancer prevention and treatment.

And, D.C. residents know who they are.

"People say, we know who the Pink Divas are - you're the ladies telling us to go get your mammograms," Washington says with a laugh.

Right now, the Pink Divas have 20 volunteers, and so far, they've been able to reach 10,000 women in the district.

They say, moving forward, they want to start working with high-school students - that way, they can both impact and educate some of the youngest residents in the city.

"There is this huge disparity that you need to learn about at a young age, because it really changes the conversation with fertility, early menopause, and things of that nature," explained Falasha Culpepper, a program manager with the Pink Divas. "And you have to start that conversation young, because your doctor may not be the one to have it with you."

The Divas say their school program is working - as is their community program.

"Women are surviving. Our divas are living. We call it 'thriving,'" said Culpepper. "So it's working. It started as a dream, and it's certainly because of a vision, which is exciting."

The D.C. Pink Divas have an office at Eastern Senior High School in Northeast D.C.

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