Originally published 3/31/2017 at 06:00a.m., updated 3/31/2017 at 03:52a.m.
Atlanta— Normani Kordei, of the internationally acclaimed pop group Fifth Harmony, has partnered with the American Cancer Society as a global ambassador to increase awareness around the importance of breast cancer screening and HPV vaccination. The fight against cancer hits close to home, as Kordei's mother, Andrea, is a breast cancer survivor having been diagnosed when Normani was just five years old.
"I remember seeing my father shaving my mother's head in the bathroom after her chemo treatments; It was so traumatizing,"Kordei said.
The heartbreaking memory of her mother, who she calls her role model and inspiration, made the decision to
partner with American Cancer Society in helping to fight this horrible disease a no brainer..
"My mom is my hero, and I wouldn't be the woman I am today without her," said Kordei. "I am so committed to this fight. I love the work the American Cancer Society does, and being a global ambassador provides me an amazing platform to share my experience and story while growing up, support my grandfather who is currently undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, and honor the legacy of my Uncle Norman, to whom I am named after and never met, having passed from lung cancer at the age of 33."
The American Cancer Society is the nation's largest private, not-for-profit investor in cancer research and offers patient programs and services including free transportation to treatment, no-cost lodging at more than 30 Hope Lodge facilities in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, as well as education and prevention initiatives around the world.
"Cancer has touched my life and the lives of those I love, and now I'm ready to help all that I can in the fight," Kordei said.
"We are honored to have such a strong voice in Normani to help us save more lives from cancer," said Sharon Byers, chief development and marketing officer for the American Cancer Society. "Her passion and commitment at such a young age is remarkable. In November, Normani visited a hospital with us, and watching her interact with patients young and old was special. She has the ability to put smiles on the patients who need happiness most."
“Being only 20, it was especially tough to watch kids who were struggling," Kordei said. "But it was truly memorable and inspiring to see their parents provide support. It was really emotional yet rewarding when a few of the parents came up to me with tears in their eyes saying that it has been a long time since they saw their kids smile. That experience set the course and the desire to do more."
The American Cancer Society is the largest voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem, and it's because of her mother's breast cancer diagnosis that Normani is especially committed to increasing awareness about the importance of mammography among women in underserved communities. And as a young woman who has taken a step toward the prevention of cervical and other cancers through HPV vaccination, she is the perfect ambassador to share the message to make HPV vaccination a national and global public health priority.
"Vaccines are among the few medical interventions capable of achieving almost complete eradication of a disease," Byers said. "We have a cancer prevention vaccine that has been available for 10 years. They're safe and they work, yet in this country only about half of girls and boys who are vaccinated with the other vaccines recommended for preteens are getting vaccinated to protect them from cancer.
"It's not often there's an opportunity to prevent cancer, or in this case multiple cancers, with a single tool. Concerted efforts are needed so that the opportunity is not lost. Having a widely known and well-connected spokesperson like Normani, who has a pulse on the younger generation and a passion for working with kids, will help to educate today's parents and youth."