Pain to Purpose

AUTHOR:  Sharon Sanford
DATE:  07/20/2020

Nothing prepares you for the phone call that says, “you have cancer.”

The Pain

On October 30, 2017 after a routine mammogram, I received a call that rocked my world.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer that had spread to my lymph nodes.  I was in total shock when I received the news.  Words cannot express the feeling of helplessness that covers you when you hear those words.  After my diagnosis I tapped into my source – God.  I knew that I needed to exercise my faith to make it through this painful and challenging time.  My faith was met with support from my family, friends and co-workers.  The support and positive energy helped uplift me during my treatments and healing journey.  I received cards, care packages, meals, visits and prayers that was the motivation that pushed me each day and laid the foundation for what I was to do next.

"Sadie Strong" "We Believe God" "Promoting the early detection of breast cancer and inspiring healthy lifestyles." "" and a photo of Sharon Sanford.

Photo obtained from Sharon Sanford.

The Purpose

On the one-year anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis, I took back the pain that my breast cancer diagnosis caused and replaced it with my purpose. I went downtown and filled out the paperwork to start “Sadie Strong,” a non-profit charitable breast cancer support organization that promotes the early detection of breast cancer and inspires healthy lifestyles for women in underserved communities in the Buffalo – Niagara Region.

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.  African American women succumb to the disease at greater rates. I want to encourage women, especially those who experience racial health disparities, to get annual mammograms, health screenings, do monthly self-breast checks and adopt healthy lifestyle practices through healthy eating and exercise to help reduce risks that can factor into breast cancer.

It is my mission to turn my pain into purpose. In the three years since our founding, Sadie Strong has been recognized at a 501(c)(3) charitable organization providing dynamic programs and services such as the Sadie Strong Community Health and Wellness Expo, Prayer Walk, Celebration of Healing and Zumba fitness classes. We also provide random acts of kindness and service including distributing Sadie Strong Love Boxes and meals to women going through breast cancer treatments. Our vision is “a world where women take control of their health.” Each day we strive to inspire faith, hope and love to everyone we encounter.

For more information about Sadie Strong or to make a donation visit our website at

Connect with Me

headshot of sharon sanford.

Sharon Sanford

Associate Athletic Director for Recreation and Sport Management


154 Alumni Arena

Phone: 716-645-2307