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For the Breast of Us Celebrates 2 Years with the Inaugural Baddie Ambassador Retreat

by Cynthia Johnson

For the Breast of Us celebrated its 2-year anniversary by hosting more than 20 women in Orlando, Florida for the Inaugural Breast Cancer Baddie Ambassador Retreat. Kicking off on a Thursday, a group of nearly all complete strangers came together at a private villa and walked away forever bonded in sisterhood. Over 3 full days, the baddies who had a variety of different stories came together due to one common thread; we had all been diagnosed with breast cancer.

I don’t recall when in my breast cancer journey I came across For the Breast of Us but I was immediately drawn to this space that was created for women of color. I immediately felt at home. I was able to see women who looked like me and learn about their journeys and I didn’t feel nearly so alone. I never imagined I would be chosen to become a Baddie Ambassador. From the moment the Baddie Bus picked us up at the airport, I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be in this space and time.

Life will only change when you become more committed to your dreams than you are to your comfort zone.

-Billy Cox

I was super excited to learn that all the #baddies had been invited for the first-ever Baddie Ambassador Retreat but then my introvert tendencies had me coming up with all the reasons why I wouldn’t go. I am forever grateful that my support circle encouraged me to go cause it was everything I didn’t know I needed. I am lucky to have had my friends and family step up in full force through my diagnosis and active treatment, but there is something extremely special about being wrapped in a community of people who know what you are going through. I got to be me. Not the grad student, not the overachiever, not the do everything for everyone, I got to be #JustCyn. And that was not only accepted but it was also celebrated. No one thought anything of it when I couldn’t get up off the floor or it took me a few minutes to get moving because my body gets stiff after just a few moments of sitting still. There was so much said and even more that didn’t need to be said.

We had a whirlwind weekend where we painted, lounged by the pool, created crafts to honor those who couldn’t be with us, we laughed, we cried, we danced. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can confidently say that our souls were cleansed. There are events in life that make an indelible mark on your life. Things like marriage, the birth of children, and being loved fully and appropriately. The Baddie Ambassador Retreat was one of those events for me. My life has been forever changed and I am going to level up because of all that was poured into me by my baddie sisters.

We celebrated our shared and individual journeys with an amazing photoshoot where we bared our souls and our bodies. I can’t even begin to describe the overflow of love in that room as we supported and loved on one another while we stepped out of our comfort zones and stepped into full #baddie mode. Tears flowed but so did the laugher.

Amongst all the good times, the #baddies also came to handle business. We spent a full day learning and strategizing so that we can all contribute to expanding the reach of For the Breast of Us. It was a great time bouncing ideas off one another, learning of each other’s strengths and areas of interest, and committing to work together to ensure that other women get to experience For the Breast of Us. We entered as strangers, but we left as sisters. Before the retreat, I had no idea how much I needed to be surrounded by my fellow breast cancer #baddies. It was even more special that these were women of color who know how much more difficult our journeys and experience have been because of the color of our skin. For me, it was powerful to see all the differences in our shared journeys- flatties, metastatic, triple-negative and so many more. I know without a shadow of a doubt, this momentum is going to carry us all to do amazing things both as individuals and as the Class of 2021 Baddie Ambassadors.

Words fail me, they don’t do this experience any justice. Even these pictures only give a glimpse of the magic that was made. Marissa and Jasmine, thank you for a life-changing experience. Thank you for trusting me to assist you in carrying out your dreams for For the Breast of Us. You are #blackgirlmagic and I am honored to call you my sisters.

To my fellow #baddies, thank you for seeing me and for seeing things in me that I didn’t even see in myself. Thank you for your love and encouragement. Thank you for your understanding. I promise to always be in your corner and I cannot wait until the next time we get to be in each other’s presence.

So hey ya’ll. My name is Cyn. I’m a breast cancer survivor. I’m an educator, I am empowered and I’m a #baddie!

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