“Sisterhood” of Breast Cancer

People say that being diagnosed with breast cancer is like joining a sisterhood of survivors. For twin sisters, Joan Jolly and Jean Foss, going through breast cancer together as sisters, just seemed natural. “We always shared everything,” said Joan. “It just seems inevitable that we would go through cancer together too.”

Jean (Left) and twin sister Joan (right) pictured with their cousin.

Jean (Left) and twin sister Joan (right) pictured with their cousin.

In early 2016, Joan was having a routine mammogram that ended up being anything but routine. Following the mammogram she had a lumpectomy, which resulted in later having a double mastectomy when it was discovered that her entire breast had cancer in it.


A month later her twin sister Jean felt a lump in her breast. Jean was nervous but thankful she already had a resource for information. “It was scary at first. Could this really happen to both of us at the same time?” Jean reflected. “But it was also a tremendous relief…not relief…but such a support for me. I wasn’t as frightened because I wasn’t alone.” Jean credits Joan’s experience with saving her life. Jean opted to have a double mastectomy right away. When her breast tissue was tested, they found that there was a second, early stage, more aggressive cancer in the breast that they hadn’t noticed in diagnostic testing. “It could have turned out so much worse,” Jean said.

Joan (L) with twin sister Jean (R) are going through breast cancer together.

Joan (L) with twin sister Jean (R) are going through breast cancer together.

Once they were diagnosed, they continued to help each other. Joan had been referred to the Beyond Pink TEAM by her doctor, to help her with medical expenses that her insurance didn’t cover. She also applied for help with her utilities as she was the only income in her household. “It was such a blessing,” said Joan. “My husband can’t work, and mine is the only paycheck. Being off work…we could have lost everything.”

Joan knew that her twin sister would also be off work and suggested she look into the Beyond Pink TEAM as well. Jean knew she would need help with her rent. Her landlord was her sister Joan, who was not in a position to be without rent money. “It was such a godsend. To know that I could get assistance, which in turn would help my sister, it was such a relief,” said Jean.


People like Joan and Jean are the reason that over 800 participants signed up for the Pink Ribbon Run 5K last year, and why the committee is hoping even more will participate this year. Due to the large turnout in 2015, the Pink Ribbon Run committee donated over $49,000 to the Beyond Pink TEAM. It was the largest donation to the Beyond Pink TEAM in the 9 years of the Pink Ribbon Run.

The committee has donated over $221,000 to the Beyond Pink TEAM since the race’s inception. All money raised by the Pink Ribbon Run, stays local and helps local families facing a breast cancer diagnosis. In 2015, the Beyond Pink TEAM put that money to work by awarding 79 grants to women in nine counties, with support that totaled over $63,000.

The 10th Annual Pink Ribbon Run is presented by Oakridge Realtors and University of Iowa Community Credit Union for the second year in row. The support of sponsors this year means ALL race registration funds go directly to helping other people. The committee has covered all expenses thanks to sponsorships. Also returning for a second year, the committee is thankful for Community Auto as the Survivor Sponsor. As part of this sponsorship Community Auto will cover the registration fee for any breast cancer survivor who participates in the Pink Ribbon Run.

Money from the Pink Ribbon Run is put into a fund at the Northeast Iowa Community Foundation. The Beyond Pink Fund, as it is named, began awarding grants in 2008. Grants are given to women or men facing a breast cancer diagnosis who are in need of assistance in Black Hawk County and surrounding counties. The assistance can be used for groceries, gas money, utility expenses, medical costs, etc.

Along with being a great route to run or walk, there will be special recognition for breast cancer survivors before the race begins, and also during the program afterward.  Registration for the Pink Ribbon Run is $30 until September 12; $35 after September 12. There is no Tshirt guarantee for registrations after September 12. The race will begin at 8 am, and afterward there will be light refreshments sponsored by Martin Brothers, race awards and door prizes!!

Online registration is available by going to the Beyond Pink TEAM website at www.beyondpinkteam.org . The Pink Ribbon Run is organized by a committee of volunteers from the community. All funds raised are donated to the Beyond Pink TEAM.  To become a sponsor or to have a registration form mailed to you call Community Main Street office at 319-277-0213.

Posted in Events, Young Cancer Survivors