Barbara Michaud, a tenacious cancer survivor, moved to the U.S. Virgin Islands in October 2008 and has worked almost non-stop to raise breast cancer awareness in the territory.
The 55-year-old Michaud began her own personal battle with breast cancer in June 2013. After beginning her recovery journey, Michaud said, she felt “the strong gravitational pull to pay it forward.” Her determination and drive led her to becoming a consultant for Cancer Support V.I., an organization that creates campaigns and fundraising events for cancer throughout the year.
A few recent events the group spearheaded include:
– “Give Cancer the Boot,” a fundraising activity in which individuals placed donations into donated pink boots;
– The Love Button Initiative, a paint event to empower women and raise awareness about screening in the V.I.;
– “Paint The Town Pink,” held in collaboration with the shops on Main Street. A portion of the proceeds from “Paint The Town Pink” went directly to a cancer patient in the territory.
Despite all of accomplishments, Barb believes her greatest accomplishment has been building relationships in the community and creating the awareness that the fund, Cancer Support V.I., is “out there for those in our communities affected by cancer.”
From 2015 to today, she has raised about $350,000. The money has assisted several cancer patients with housing, airfare, medical bills or other bills that would help them get the best possible care.
Michaud said the territory’s business community and private sector are some of the most generous people she has ever met, never hesitating to help raise the awareness or provide the necessary funding to do so.
“They are our biggest cheerleaders and fundraisers,” she said.
To those battling suffering cancer, she offers this advice: “Reach out for support. Try to take it one step at a time. The information on top of hearing the words ‘you have cancer’ can be overwhelming, to say the least, but if you have family friends or advocates bring them in close.”
Michaud credits the majority of her cancer related accomplishments to Charlene Kehoe, director of fundraising at Cancer Support V.I., saying she wouldn’t be where she is without her.
She emphasized that, if caught early, breast cancer is highly curable. “So get those mammograms and understand if you are high risk. The St. Thomas Radiology center, when in operation, will leave no patient behind. Myself being an uninsured cancer patient I am like so many in our communities. They often wait to get the screening or check up in fear that if they have cancer they have no way to pay for treatment so they often come to us (Cancer Support V.I.) with a far advanced diagnosis. Don’t wait!”