JONES HONOR

Thelma D. Jones, a cancer survivor received a certificate of appreciation for her years of work in support of the mission of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. (Courtesy Photo)

District resident, cancer survivor and volunteer advocate Thelma D. Jones received a certificate of appreciation for her years of work in support of the mission of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

The award was presented by Erin O’Neal, senior director of grassroots campaigns, during the organization’s annual Day with D.C. City Councilmembers. The event, in April, is where advocates and staff ask council members to support key cancer-related issue.

Jones championed the fight for improved education, accountable elected officials, and community mentoring for decades. In 2007 after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Jones almost immediately became a peer counselor to other women similarly diagnosed. “Thelma’s passion for cancer research and services to support cancer patients is an inspiration to so many people in and around our community,” said Bonita Pennino, government relations director for D.C. and Maryland. “She has worked tireless in building relationships with key elected officials and in supporting local and federal issues on behalf of cancer patients in D.C. We are so fortunate for the contributions she has made in the fight against cancer.”

During her time volunteering for the organization, Jones spoke to members of Congress alongside retired basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as part of the One Degree Campaign, served as a panelist on the topic of breast cancer with Dr. Jill Biden and Department of Education Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and was nominated as a White House Champion of Change. Jones founded a breast cancer support group in Washington D.C. to provide people with a supportive and safe space to share information and discuss their diagnosis for the first time. The group boasts more than 600 members and has been named the Thelma D. Jones Breast Cancer Support Group. She said she is stepping down from her role as a Volunteer Lead Ambassador in Washington D.C. after five years.

“In looking at the many challenges women were experiencing with a breast cancer diagnosis, I wanted to find a way to help those less fortunate than I am. A major lesson I learned along the way was the value of family members, friends, communities, and colleagues – they provide identity, support, joy, and comfort,” Jones told the AFRO. “They make the fight against this disease tolerable. No one who travels the breast cancer journey should have to make this journey alone.”