Paulette Leaphart had a double mastectomy in 2014 after being diagnosed with breast cancer. That moment sparked her journey as not only a breast cancer survivor, but an activist.
Leaphart decided that her diagnosis would not define her. So she put on her running shoes in an attempt to bring awareness to the fight against cancer.
Paulette walked completely topless from her hometown in Biloxi, Mississippi, 1,000 miles to Washington D.C., a journey that took nearly two months.
During Thursday’s edition of NewsOne Now, Paulette Leaphart spoke with Roland Martin about her cancer diagnosis, her battle against the disease, and why she began speaking out for those who could not find a voice in order to help them understand they should not be ashamed.
Prior to her diagnosis, Leaphart explained doctors performed a BRCA gene test and were unable to find the gene despite the prevalence of breast cancer in her family history. She said that revelation “puzzled them.”
She told Martin, “Many African-American women are not testing positive for that BRCA gene, but they have the cancer running in their family.” Leaphart added, “New studies are being done to find out what’s causing it.”
When asked why she decided to go on a thousand mile journey from Mississippi to Washington, D.C. bare-chested, Leaphart said she was led by a vision from God. She added, “God isolated me during my battle.”
“I didn’t have family and the friends rally around me to support me and it bothered me. But it wasn’t until after God gave me this vision that he revealed to me that he had to isolate me,” Leaphart said. She said God isolated her because “he need me to hear from him.”
Now after her ordeal, Leaphart is encouraging her daughters to have mammograms. “I’m making it visible, I don’t hide it,” she said referring to the scars from her double mastectomy.
Not only has she not hidden the scars from her family, Leaphart has showed them to the world. She arrived in Washington, D.C. on her 50th birthday after traveling 1,000 miles topless. Her trek, a testament to strength and determination, has inspired both those who have survived breast cancer and those who knew little about the disease.
Watch Roland Martin, Paulette Leaphart, and the NewsOne Now panel discuss her incredible story in the video clip above.
Follow Leaphart on Facebook for updates on her journey and the upcoming rally to bring awareness and hope to those struggling with chronic diseases.
Subscribe to the NewsOne Now Audio Podcast on iTunes.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty