During a November 2014 interview, Marlene King, told The Baltimore Times, “I thank God every day for waking me up. It’s something you think about and are really grateful for when you don’t have that much longer to live. I am not a cancer survivor, but a cancer warrior. I will continue to fight. Either way it will be alright.”
In November 2015, King’s valiant breast cancer fight came to a courageous end when she passed away. King, who was diagnosed at 48, was passionate about the importance of breast cancer research, supporting men and women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, and other efforts. Her wish was to have a 5K walk in Baltimore City with a focus on all cancers.
King’s wish came true through the 5K Warrior Walk Against All Cancers. The event, which is in its second year, will be held Saturday, June 24, 2017, at 3001 East Drive located in Baltimore City’s Druid Hill Park.
The event is being presented by The Journey Continues (TJC) Breast Cancer Survivorship Organization, a non-for-profit, charitable organization. King served as the inaugural president and co-founder of TJC, which she and other breast cancer survivors was founded in November 2013.
“Marlene was a beautiful woman with a beautiful spirit and a heart of gold,” said Le'Vonia M. Gourgue, co-founder and vice president of TJC.
“She had a sparkle that could light up a room. Her heart was so big, and was filled with so much love. We really miss her, but we find peace in knowing that she is in a better place now.
“The purpose of this walk is to honor Marlene, and to focus on all cancers – not just breast cancer. We are all on this journey together, and we want to empower and encourage people. We also want to get the message out there for people to be active. Being active is vital to a person’s survival rate. Through this walk, we also want to bring the community together.”
TJC stresses the importance of early detection, and holds symposiums and other events to discuss the topic.
“Early detection is critical,” said Gourgue. “I am a two-time breast cancer survivor with no family history of breast cancer. I found out I had breast cancer after initially doing a self-breast exam. A lot of people don’t want to talk about it, but a lot of woman have found out they had breast cancer after their significant other felt something in their breast that should not have been there. We need to check ourselves, and follow through and go to see a doctor.”
Gourgue, 46, was diagnosed with breast cancer at 33.
“When I was initially diagnosed, I had one option, and that was to fight, and that’s what I did,” she said. “However, my second bout with breast cancer was more challenging. I know we are not supposed to question God, but I did. I asked, ‘Why am I going through this again?’ However, God told me I was going through it for a reason – and that reason was to be active in the community, and to empower and encourage other women.”
She added, “Yolanda Adams has a song entitled, ‘The Battle is The Lord’s’. I leaned on that song every day. Once I realized and surrendered to the fact that He was using me as a vessel, I was able to make it through. I am happy God chose me and not another one of my family members. At the end of the storm, there is a rainbow. I am that rainbow.”
TJC is comprised of Gourgue, and approximately 25 other breast cancer survivors. Other members include Dr. Ruth Travis, who recently retired as Senior. Pastor of Ebenezer African American Methodist (A.M.E.) in south Baltimore. Gourgue also noted that TJC’s mission is to increase the survival rate of those diagnosed with breast cancer, particularly among African American women through its C.A.R.E. (Comfort, Advocacy, Resources and Education) program.
“There is a huge disparity when it comes to breast cancer among women in the black community,” she said. “Through our efforts, we want to help change that disparity. We are encouraging everyone to come out and support this event."
The 5K Warrior Walk Against All Cancers begins at 9:00 a.m. The registration fee is $30.