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From Existing to Thriving: Sharon's Journey Beyond Cancer

After going through Cancer, Sharon’s perspective of life really changed. Now, she aims to live life to the fullest.

Sharon Marshall-Green is a wife and a mother who is originally from Leeds who came to London for a weekend 32 years ago, and never left. Sharon works in employment support for people who are overcoming serious mental health problems. She enjoys anything to do with the arts, going to the theatre, festivals and is a big foodie with a particular love for desserts “I will leave a restaurant if the desserts are not what I want”.

Sharon was diagnosed at 45 years old with stage 3 HER 2 positive breast cancer. The diagnosis came as a shock as the consultant who first examined Sharon said after feeling it that she thought it was benign. She described going through the cancer as “sad, awful and quite a debilitating time but coming through the other side felt like a rebirth”.

Prior to cancer it was like she was just existing and not living, whereas now she feels like she is living. Going through the experience helped the now 51-year-old realise what is important and how certain things that may have previously bothered her are insignificant. “Cancer helped to save me in a weird way”.

Sharon’s friend told her about Black Women Rising and she attended one of the face-to face support meetings. Being united with other women who “just got it” really helped her get to where she is now. Sharon went from someone who attended the support groups to someone who led the online sessions. At first the nerves kicked in but after doing the first few sessions she felt much more relaxed. She likes to bring a real balance of emotions to her groups.

Sharon also took part in Black Women Rising’s second photograph exhibition. When asked about how she felt looking at her images she said it was an “eye opener”. Even though the photos had been taken a few years after her operation, she didn’t realise how different her breasts were as she always looked down and hadn’t really seen them in the mirror. At the same time, she found it to be quite “liberating” as a big learning point on her journey was about acceptance, “I accept the altered version of me because it saved my life”.

A couple of years down the line in the mist of the pandemic in 2020 Leanne asked Sharon to sit on the board for “The Leanne Pero Foundation”. Sharon said she was astounded, but seeing how Leanne believed in her helped her to further believe in herself, “it is so rewarding, and it means everything to me”. Being a part of the board means you get to see a big part of what is happening and future plans as well as other administrative roles. The role is very much in line with her purpose and helps to keep her going.

“Black Women Rising has given me a voice and a confidence that I never knew that I had”.

To anyone who is newly diagnosed Sharon would say try to stay positive, dark days will happen but so much light is also in those moments if you are able to stay present and surround yourself with positivity. “Be kind to one another and treat people how you want to be treated”.

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