Breast Cancer Champion Empowers Warriors

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Ranneisha Champion, founder of Ribbon Goddess, is using her battles with breast cancer to bring awareness about breast cancer and empower and uplift those battling with the disease. (Courtesy Photo by Britney Garrett Photography)

By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. Editor
mgreen@afro.com

Ranneisha Champion’s surname does justice to the true woman she is, and as a pregnant, full-time entrepreneur and Triple Negative breast cancer warrior, she is using her experiences, achievements and all that she has overcome and learned, to uplift, educate and empower others.

Champion was a 27-year-old living her best life when she was first displaying symptoms and diagnosed with breast cancer.  

“So my tumor started as like… a really small gumball and it grew to the size of a really large gumball- so it’s just growing and I’m just fascinated.  I’m not knowing, because I’m not educated, and that’s the thing,” she told the AFRO in a Facebook Live interview.

When Champion finally went to go see about the tumor, her concerns were not taken seriously on multiple occasions, until one doctor noticed the growth and insisted on ruling out any issues.

 “In one side of my breast I had cancer… and I had a cyst, which is a benign fibroma, in my other breast,” Champion said.

“It was Triple Negative breast cancer.  My tumor was the size of a small plum, but it started as the size of a very small gumball.  It was growing and it was growing, and I started out at one hospital,” she explained before having to transfer hospitals and doctors due to care concerns. 

“I had Stage 3 Triple Negative breast cancer.  Which meant, if it spread anymore, because it had spread to the lymph node that they had tested, because it was swollen… which puts you one step before Stage 4, where it can spread throughout your entire body and wipe you out,” she said.  “So that was July 4… I started chemo 50 days later.  That was very dangerous and I wouldn’t recommend that for anyone, but I don’t regret the decision. I had to change doctors and change hospitals and I had to be able to advocate for myself and be able to speak with people that were going to be knowledgeable.  So those people, they gave knowledge, while the first doctor gave false hope… and I was at a place where I really needed people to tell me answers because I didn’t know anything about cancer and I didn’t know anything about this type of breast cancer, and they were kind of iffy as well… because you don’t know what causes it.”

Now a 30-year-old mom-to-be, Champion is using all she learned and achieved after battling cancer, by empowering others through her business Ribbon Goddess.

“I’m Ribbon Goddess full time and what Ribbon Goddess does is create boxes.  I have two boxes; one is called the ‘Journey Box’ and one is called the ‘Champion Box.’  The Journey Box is for people who are battling cancer, any form of ribbon- as we know there’s so many different stages of ribbons.  But this Journey Box is for people who are battling chemo, radiation or some other form of surgery, and what it does is, it kind of takes your mind out of your cancer.  It’s kind of a self-care box,” Champion told the AFRO.  “How do you love yourself through this journey?  How do you remember who you are and who you were because after cancer you’re not the same.  Even though you’re chasing your old self, you’re not the same.  So how do you pick yourself up and continue to move with purpose and help other people and not soak in sorrow?  And everyone has a different outlook.  I cannot tell someone how to feel, I’m not doing that, but this box is supposed to help you breathe.  What are you thankful for?  Take a bath; take a soak. Breathe in an aromatherapy candle.”

“And then you have the Champion Box, because I’m a Champion,” the entrepreneur said. “That’s for, who we consider, warriors, champions- a lot of people would consider them survivors.  I don’t have an issue with the word survivor, I just feel that, people think once you’re done with cancer you’re done with cancer and it’s not.  It’s a mental thing.  You will never be done with cancer, because you’re hoping it never comes back… That Champion Box doesn’t remind you of your cancer.  There’s nothing in there that’s pink, because sometimes pink will trigger some people,” she explained.

Champion also has merchandise for patrons looking to support the business that helps fund such boxes.

“I have masks, I have pens, I have lapel pins, writing pens, stylus pens, and I’m accepting donations, which surprisingly I’ve had so many- over $2,000 worth of donations.  The goal that we had for the month of October, and then into the month of November has actually tripled- thankfully for the amount of support,” she said.

Champion said others can support and learn more about Ribbon Goddess by visiting @the.ribbon.goddess on Instagram. 

As The Ribbon Goddess prepares for her miracle baby, she also is making major plans for her business.  

“What’s next is, getting the Ribbon Goddess boxes out there.  Last year I was able to speak at Howard University with the Good Girl Movement and the goal is to be able to speak with young women that are in school or outside of school, as young as age 18, just to educate them- to make them aware that this can happen to any of us.  We are not exempt.  Even if we don’t have any person in our life, we are not exempt.  So how do we advocate?  How do we do it without coming off as the ‘Angry Black Woman?’  And so that’s what’s next, is just being able to go to speak to colleges… because you’re never too old, but you have to start it off young,” Champion told the AFRO.  “And [we’ve got] to get to the people;  we’ve got to get these recreation centers, get to these neighborhoods, get to these colleges, these businesses and just educate people and truly educate them on how to advocate for themselves regardless what setting.  Regardless, if it’s cancer, if it’s gynecology, if it’s mental health, if it’s a therapist that’s not working for you, if it’s a job that’s not working for you, because when you’re advocating, you use that and it will take you anywhere.  Because once you advocate for yourself and learn how to do it, you’ll always do it.”