By Noah Johnson
LANSING, Ill. (November 28, 2021) – A Oak Glen playground supervisor led an event for cancer survivors that raised $6,000 during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Yolanda Shields organized the October event held at Lencioni’s in Lynwood where attendees enjoyed a live band, snacks, and poetry honoring two cancer survivors, who received gift baskets and donated funds for their chemotherapy treatments.
Living to help
Shields, who is a breast cancer survivor, has been holding similar events every October, finding ways to support other survivors. She was diagnosed in 2005 and in 2017. Amid her 2005 stage three breast cancer diagnosis, she said she thought it wouldn’t end well.
“I never thought you could live with cancer because growing up you always saw people said they had breast cancer and who ended up dying,” she said.
Having gone through the emotional and physical challenges that come with living with the disease, she was inspired to lend a helping hand to others.
“A lot of people give up after being diagnosed with breast cancer because they don’t think there’s something out there to help,” she said, noting why she wanted to help support survivors. In 2017 she and her sisters got together and started buying wigs, scarves, hats, and other gifts for individuals at Cancer Care Consultant in Indiana, where she was treated.
“I haven’t been looking for anything back, and I’ve been happy with the outcome of everything. As far as the people I’ve given gifts to, I think they are all happy,” she said.
Aiming to help children
While her efforts have primarily been geared toward adults, in the future she hopes to broaden her focus to include children with cancer as well.
“If I could just give them a bear hug I would feel happy, but I’ve always wanted to do something for them,” she said. She also wants to throw an event for caregivers who’ve worked hard to support their loved ones going through what she has.
Shields encourages women to get checked for breast cancer and advises loved ones to be patient for those who are undergoing treatment.
“Try to help them, and if they need to seek counseling, they should,” she said. ”I’m available to talk and cry with everybody.”