BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Sharon Sandford was diligent about getting her mammogram every year since turning 40. On her 50th birthday, she was shocked to find out the devastating news, she had triple-negative breast cancer. African American women are more disproportionately affected by this type of cancer.

After her diagnosis, Sharon leaned on her family and faith to fight. Right away, she got doctor recommendations from her Delta Sigma Theta sorority sister, which led her to Roswell Park’s Dr. Mariola Poss. Sharon said “When I met with Dr. Poss, I felt like we had this kindred spirit. She made me feel like I was her only patient. Like she really wanted to do anything and everything she could to help me live.”

Sharon calls herself a resilient warrior and has started an organization called ‘Sadie Strong,’ promoting the early detection of breast cancer and supporting women of color. “When I had my mammogram when I was diagnosed, I was feeling great. So when you don’t get tested annually, the difference between one year to the next can really be detrimental. And the longer you wait, the more challenging it can be.”

She advises African American women to get checked because she says, “African American women, they’re being diagnosed earlier than 40. I feel that women should first know their body. And, that starts off as a young woman, know your body by doing annual, monthly breast checks. And when you see changes, you have to go get those checked out and you have to fight. You have to be courageous and fight for the testing that you need.”

News 4 and Roswell Park are partnering to put on Mammothon. They are encouraging 400 women to sign up for a mammogram the week of October 3-7. To sign up call 1-800-ROSWELL.

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Chelsea Lovell is a traffic anchor and reporter from New York City who joined the News 4 team in 2022. See more of her work here and follow her on Twitter.