Look What You've Started

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a Big Sister Cancer Survivor Shares a Commitment to Service with Her Little

Susan Lammers enjoys the opportunity to share her passion for community service with Kenya, her Little Sister of 11 years, by taking her to volunteer at nursing homes and other organizations on a regular basis. Over the past 12 years, Susan has worked and volunteered with two dozen organizations throughout Muscatine, Davenport and Dubuque, Iowa. While still engaged in various volunteering opportunities, including being Kenya’s mentor, Susan received a breast cancer diagnosis in 2010.

The experience of Susan’s breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment was made all the more challenging and impactful because she continued to mentor Kenya at that time. Kenya showed understandable concern for her Susan. Susan’s battle against cancer helped Kenya to understand that with the right kind of strength and support, cancer can be overcome.

“When Susan told me she was diagnosed with breast cancer I didn’t know much about it, to be honest,” Kenya says. “I didn’t know if I was going to lose my best friend. I just kept in my mind that Susan is a very strong woman and she will get through this. God was truly with her.”

Susan will have had a clean bill of health for three years this coming year. Since her diagnosis and treatment, she has continued her mission to help others, working to assist in packing and shipping of medical supplies for a church mission headed up by her surgeon, who had become a good friend. Susan says, “Out of a trying time in my life, I was introduced to someone who not only contributed to saving my life, but who also shares in my passion to better the quality of lives of those with whom we come in contact.”

Born to a very young mother, Kenya did not have a typical family setting. When she and Susan were matched through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Muscatine County, Susan made it her mission to help give Kenya a better life than her mother had growing up. Placing an important emphasis on education, Susan participated in both the school-based and community-based mentoring programs with Kenya.

After 11 years of being matched with Susan, Kenya looks forward to graduating from high school – a first for her immediate family. “Being matched with Susan is always an adventure. She is the type of person everyone will get along with, and will make you laugh and smile,” Kenya says. Being with Susan has helped Kenya to grow as a person. She has an appreciation for the importance of education, and for the importance of giving back and making an impact. Kenya now stops by a nursing home to visit with elders on her way home from school. That is truly the power of mentoring.

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