The History of STAARS
The Surviving, Thriving, African-Americans Rallying Support (STAARS) group was founded in July, 1998 by breast cancer survivors Barbara Davis and Toni Clark. This was the first breast cancer support group founded by breast cancer survivors in the Memphis community.
A need existed for an African American breast cancer support group that was “vocal and visible” because overt cancer conversations and information in our community were basically non-existent. Toni was adamant that we should give “voice to our victory” over cancer and attempt to end the silence and stigma associated with a breast cancer diagnosis.
We felt that women in our community needed to hear our stories, learn from our experiences, and know that breast cancer was just a speed bump in the road and not a death sentence.
The Memphis Cancer Foundation (MCF) founded by Dr. Kirby Smith and Pat McRee of the Flying Colors Support Network were instrumental in helping the group get started. They provided meeting facilities, supplies, refreshments for meetings, guidance, and served as our parent organization for community grants under their 501 (c) 3 status.
STAARS quickly became the largest support group in the MidSouth area. We accepted speaking engagements, participated in health fairs, and joined forces with local breast cancer organizations to help educate women and fight to find a cure for this devastating disease.
In April, 2008, the STAARS group received the Intercultural Cancer Council’s Helping Other People Endure (HOPE) Award for its diligence and hard work with the STAAR Witness Program.
STAARS support group in 2014 acquired its own 501c3 status under the JAID (Jennie and Isiah Davis) Foundation. The STAARS support group has worked diligently over its existence to address the needs of breast cancer survivors and co-survivors committing to increase breast health literacy while reducing health disparities.
As we commit to our mission to be “visible and vocal” in the fight against breast cancer, we enlist your prayers and God’s Blessings as we strive to fulfill our motto of Education, Encouragement, and Empowerment for African American women diagnosed with breast cancer. Our collective affirmation as breast cancer survivors is to: “Be Healthy, Be Hopeful, Be Happy, and Be Blessed”!
The Susan G. Komen Foundation gives a helping hand . . .
The Memphis MidSouth Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure awarded the group its first community grant in 2005 to support STAARS’ community outreach activities. The grant, which has been renewed each year since 2005, supports the group’s STAAR Witness Program. Components of the program address the needs of the African American, uninsured/underinsured, and medically underserved community. The Komen grant funds helps the group provide the following services and resources to the populations identified above:
- Information about breast health and early detection methods
- Financial assistance to eligible breast cancer patients and survivors for bras, wigs, compression garments, medical co-pays, transportation, utility/rent assistance, etc.
- FREE Mammograms through Delta Medical Center
- Assistance for Support Group Meetings
- STAAR Phone Line for 24 hour access to breast cancer survivors