Monday, May 3, 2004

Cancer survivor spreads the word

Woman helped start chapter of Sisters Network

By Janet Wetzel
Enquirer contributor

Connie Hudson
Connie Hudson, a cancer survivior, talks to a class at Turpin High School about the importance of breast cancer awareness.
(Michael E. Keating/The
Cincinnati Enquirer)
Just surviving cancer was not enough for Connie Hudson. She's made it her life's goal to help others battle the disease.

Hudson, 44, of West Chester Township, a five-year breast cancer survivor, worked with four area women to start a local chapter of the Sisters Network, a national organization founded in 1994 to increase awareness and to support African-American women with breast cancer.

A volunteer three years for YWCA's Great Beginnings, she teaches breast health to high school students, eagerly sharing her story of survival and hope.

"I tell my story, talk about how you can live after being diagnosed with cancer," said Hudson, mother of two adult children and assistant vice president at Huntington Bank. "This program is important."

So is her other volunteer work, including many years at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Lincoln Heights. She's been a board member for Breast Cancer Alliance of Greater Cincinnati four years; and three years on the board of People Working Cooperatively, which helps the elderly stay in their homes.

Her work and courage earned Hudson a WCPO-TV (Channel 9) Profiles in Courage Award and a Jefferson Award from the Cincinnati Rotary Club in 2003, and a radio station WIZF-FM (100.9) Unsung Hero Award in 2001.

Jodi Issenmann, director of Cincinnati YWCA Breast and Cervical Health Network, called Hudson a valuable Y asset. "She's always there when I ask for help," Issenmann said. "She's a real inspiration to the young girls. She makes a real impact on them."

In 2000 Hudson was the breast cancer ambassador for a national breast cancer awareness campaign, and she and husband Jerry were chosen from the group to be in a national video to help educate couples on dealing with a partner's breast cancer.

After meeting Sisters Network founder Karen Jackson in October, Hudson and Felicia Thompson of Finneytown, Andrea Ice of Westwood, Grace Wilson of Roselawn and Debbie Boone-Green of Avondale began the group. Hudson is president of the 25-member group, which meets on the second Saturday at the American Cancer Society, 2808 Reading Road in Avondale.

The first network event, a membership drive and silent auction, will be 6-8 p.m. May 20 at the Cancer Society building.

Do you know a Hometown Hero - someone in your community dedicated to making it better? E-mail Janet Wetzel at, or fax to 755-4150.

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