Breast cancer doesn't discriminate. It doesn't care what your social status is, what color your skin is, where you live, or how old you are. Breast cancer doesn't care if you're married or not, if you have children, or if you just started a new job.
Sharon Snowden-Hake learned this when she was just 29 years old. Sharon had already been modeling for 13 years and had traveled the globe as her modeling career took off. Kansas City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Germany... the world had seen Sharon and Sharon had seen the world.
When Sharon was just 16, she modeled in a "Back-to-School" fashion show for the Jones Store, here in Kansas City. Fashion was nothing new to her, as her mom had been a runway model in the fashion industry for years. In Sharon's debut fashion show, she walked the runway and danced her heart out. Her hard work paid off because not one, but TWO photographers approached her afterwards to ask her to consider modeling for them! One photographed for Hallmark (Robert Segura) and the other Macy's and Halls (Hollis Officer). Sharon's modeling career took off from that moment on. She modeled throughout college and reported for a little while after college but ultimately found acting, modeling, and hosting television shows to be her special "niche" that she fit into perfectly.
When Sharon was 29 years old, she moved home. Kansas City was home to her parents, sister, niece, and nephews, so it needed to be home to her, as well. The move came in perfect timing because shortly after, Sharon was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Sharon had gone to her gynecologist a few months prior to her diagnosis, informing her doctor that she had found a lump in her breast. Her doctor was almost certain there was nothing to be worried about, and planned to see her again in a few months just to be sure. When Sharon returned, they biopsied the lump and she heard the words so many women have heard..."breast cancer."
Breast cancer didn't care that Sharon "didn't have time for this". She had places to go, things to do, family to love and businesses to model for! But she still found herself undergoing a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. She endured it all with her family by her side. Her mom accompanied her to every appointment while her dad stayed on top of the medical side of things. Sharon never had to endure this journey alone.
Sharon found herself slowing down as she learned to take one day at a time. As a woman who was always goal-oriented, she had never been one to just stop and smell the roses. But she was almost forced to do so as she underwent treatment. Prayer, reading spiritual books, eating well, and above all else, having a positive attitude, helped carry her through each day.
Sharon finally got the "all clear". She realized that because of breast cancer, she was actually enjoying every single day. So when the news came two and a half years later that cancer had returned, she was completely shocked. The second time around was even harder, as she endured a mastectomy and two new types of radiation, one where she wasn't allowed to be around people for 72 hours. But Sharon was determined to stay positive and remain upbeat. Once again, she overcame the cancer that raged in her body.
Another "blessing-in-disguise" moment came when Sharon got a job acting for a Wal-Mart commercial shortly after her second round of cancer...while her hair was still growing back in. Sharon was offered the part because of her "short hair" which was actually a wig! This one commercial provided her with enough money to put a down payment on her house.
Sharon never really asked "Why me?" because she had a feeling, deep down, that she was meant to do something big and positive with her life.
"So many times, events in life that appear bad at the time, turn out to be the most positive experiences. The hardest times you go through, are really the most rewarding."
There weren't many young adults diagnosed with breast cancer when Sharon was, so she didn't know where to go and didn't have many resources to help her. She found herself traveling all over the city looking for the products she needed. At one point Sharon ended up in a room in the back of a dusty, dirty warehouse. She felt lonely and lost and wondered if her life would ever be "normal" again.
I would venture to say that Sharon's life has never been one of normalcy, and it definitely isn't now. Sharon took her incredibly horrible diagnosis, mixed it with her wonderfully positive energy, and has helped create an organization where people will be able to find, and afford, everything they need for cancer treatment. She did this by joining forces with Bra Couture KC.
Six years ago, Sharon Payne told Sharon Snowden-Hake about her vision for reaching cancer patients in Kansas City. Knowing Sharon Snowden-Hake's experience with modeling, she knew that having her help with Bra Couture would be nothing but beneficial.
Even though these models are breast cancer survivors, the money raised at Bra Couture goes towards anyone who is underinsured or uninsured fight any form of cancer in the Kansas City area.
Sharon volunteers with Bra Couture KC and she continues to model, act, host television shows and corporate videos. Recently she and her mom modeled for Liberty Hospital's Women's Imaging Center. This job was special for both of them, as it was a reminder of how supportive her mom was throughout Sharon's cancer journey.
Sharon is not just a woman of wise words, but a woman who lives by her words. She turned her horrible situation into something beautiful, and something that has allowed her to help touch thousands of lives in the Kansas City area. She has kept her attitude positive, and has used that positivity to bring joy and hope to many other lives.
Ziyak is excited to partner with Sharon Snowden-Hake and the rest of the Bra Couture Kansas City team throughout the rest of the month of October. We are joining forces to help cancer patients in the Kansas City area afford the medications, supplies, services, they need while fighting cancer and in the days following their treatment.
At Ziyak, we are excited to help connect people to cities all over the country. From finding the best places to eat, to exploring the best events in town, for the old in spirit and young at heart, Ziyak is for everyone.
Kendra is an Executive Assistant at Ziyak. She loves to share her humor and share her passions with anyone who will take the time to read what she writes.