Waterside School Addresses Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a disease that has impacted the Waterside School for Leadership community in many ways. Scholars at the school have had family members, teachers and friends who currently battle this disease or have battled the disease and won.
On November 17, the Waterside School for Leadership (WSL) scholars met Wilhelmina Grant, 54, a visual artist and two-time cancer survivor. Waterside scholars Chico Harris and Camden Hall-Canale began the community meeting assembly with an introduction that included statistics which emphasized the need for all women to get checked early for cancer. They joined Principal Linda T. Munro in introducing Grant, who spoke to the scholars about her life, her experience and her struggles with the disease.
Grant was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994. She was injured during a karate class and went to the doctor when the pain in her chest did not subside. Although numerous doctors told her that she was too young to need a mammogram, she finally found a doctor who performed a biopsy and confirmed that it was cancer. Grant stressed to the Waterside scholars how important it is for them to know their own bodies. She reminded them to “eat right, exercise and most importantly, know when something feels wrong.” Her persistence led to her diagnosis and ultimately saved her life.
Grant spoke to the sixth- and seventh graders about her second battle with cancer in 2001. Scholars said that they were in awe that she was not only a cancer survivor but that she used her experiences to help others. With a grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation, she has created the “Fan Project,” which allows her to share her art and information with women.
During the question and answer session, scholars asked many questions about Grant’s battle with cancer. One scholar asked how she felt when she was diagnosed with cancer for a second time. Grant stated, “I beat it before and I knew I could beat it again.” Scholars were moved by her story. One shared that his own mother is a cancer survivor.
At the end of the assembly, the scholars presented Grant with a check for $300 to continue her work with the Fan Project. Grant joins a prestigious group of speakers who have visited Waterside, including Councilman Eric Ulrich, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer and Urban Word Poets.