‘Sisterhood of Survival’ – a space for vital conversation

Sister Spokesman
(l-r) Sharon Luster Dykes, M D, Dr. Alyse Hamilton and Dr. Barbara Toppin
Courtesy of Sister Spokesman

My mom discovered the lump on her left breast, and after several tests, she received the devastating prognosis of breast cancer. I was 16 years old and I thought it was a death sentence.

The prognosis of cancer is terrifying for anyone to hear, but it is worse when it’s your own mother. Mom ended up having a partial mastectomy of her left breast and her lymph nodes removed. Radiation treatment for six months followed the surgery. When I asked my mom what got her through that difficult time, she said her acceptance of the prognosis, along with her steadfast faith in God helped to pull her through.

Thankfully, my mother has been cancer-free since then. Over the years, she has used her experience as an opportunity to help educate, encourage, and uplift other women who are facing cancer as well. I admire women like my mother who have persevered through the adversity of cancer and have come out victorious on the other side.

That was 36 years ago, and I am fortunate today to have more resources available to me than my mother did back then. It is vital for all women to have a safe place to discuss cancer prevention, early detection and ways of supporting and encouraging sisters who are surviving cancer. The upcoming Sister Spokesman event on October 5 provides such a space.

After a summer-long hiatus, Sister Spokesman is proud to host “Sisterhood of Survival: Cancer Awareness” with an all-star line-up of three African American female physicians who have each practiced in their respective fields for over 25 years.

These esteemed doctors will help to educate, encourage, and uplift by providing discussion about three types of cancers that have impacted African American women: colorectal, breast, and cervical.

Sharon Luster Dykes, MD is a colon and rectal surgeon who began her solo, independent practice in 2010. Dykes has practiced surgery in the Twin Cities since 2003. She received her bachelor’s degree as well as her medical degree from Brown University in Providence, RI, in 1988 and 1991, respectively.

She pursued and completed her General Surgery Residency and subsequent Colon and Rectal Surgery Fellowship at the University of Minnesota. She has double board certification in General Surgery and Colon and Rectal Surgery and will be discussing colorectal cancer.

Dr. Alyse Hamilton graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul with her bachelor’s degree in biology. She then went on to complete her medical degree in 1982 at the University of Minnesota, School of Medicine.

For over 25 years, “Dr. Alyse” as she is known to her patients, practiced extensively as an internal medicine and emergency medical doctor serving the Minneapolis metropolitan area. She is board-certified in Internal Medicine and the founder and medical director of the Advanced Health and Vitality Center, in Edina, Minnesota.

Dr. Alyse will discuss breast cancer at the event. She specializes in Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy, Nutritional Assessment/Therapy; and Advanced Lyme; Natural Infusion Therapies for Immune System and Nutritional Support.

Dr. Barbara Toppin is a board-certified OB/GYN with many years of experience in women’s health care. She graduated from Wellesley College. She received her medical degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1982 and then completed her residency at Harlem Hospital, serving as Executive Chief Resident in her fourth year. Her professional experience includes serving as clinical instructor at Columbia University College of Medicine, medical directorship of the Ossining Open Door Clinic in upstate New York and private practice in White Plains, New York. She has her own practice and is the co-founder of Adefris & Toppin Women’s Specialists in Woodbury, MN. Dr. Toppin will be discussing cervical cancer.

I am honored to play a small role in organizing this event and it makes me feel like I am paying homage to my mothers’ testimony. Like my mom who tried to help others by sharing her cancer experience, I am confident that the women who attend “Sisterhood of Survival” will be helped tremendously by the education, encouragement, and professional expertise of Dr. Dykes, Dr. Hamilton, and Dr. Toppin. I hope to see you there.

Lannette Stewart welcomes readers responses to lstewart@spokesman-recorder.com.

“Sisterhood of Survival” will be held on October 5 from 12 – 4 pm at Lifesource, 2225 West River Rd N., Minneapolis, MN 55411. Just $5 at the door.

For more information, visit Facebook/SisterSpokesman.