Thriver Spotlight: Meet Our Bud Marissa of For the Breast of Us
Posted: May 9, 2022
“Somebody wrote something a couple years ago about 'What’s one thing that you would want to tell your body?' and I said, 'I would want to tell her thank you, because she kept me through when I didn’t think that I could and helped me survive through everything.'"
Thanks to this powerful quote, it’s no secret how Marissa Thomas feels about her body. But it was the lack of representation for women who looked like her in the breast cancer community that inspired her to become a Co-Founder of For the Breast of Us – an online community devoted to amplifying voices of color.
ICYMI: We went live with Marissa in March as part of our Thriver Thursday series – check it out here!
Marissa’s Cancer Story
In November 2015 at the age of 35, Marissa was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer. She underwent chemo, radiation, and reconstructive surgery, but felt largely invisible after witnessing minimal inclusion for women of color throughout her treatment process. After her beloved friend, Cristina, passed away following a triple negative breast cancer diagnosis – traditionally very aggressive for women of color – Marissa’s frustration formed around a central question: Why aren’t there more people who look like us in clinical trials?
She knew that something had to change. After meeting and connecting with fellow thriver Jasmine Sours on Instagram, the two launched For the Breast of Us in May 2019 with the hopes of improving the breast cancer experience for women of color.
Channeling BBE (Big Baddie Energy)
The two women bonded over their shared circumstances, reflecting on how when they went into doctors’ offices to receive consultations for mastectomies and reconstructions, the images they were provided of ‘expected results’ only included the breasts of white women. In fact, the need for inclusivity was so critical that just two months into their partnership, For the Breast of Us was born. Female breast cancer thrivers of color can join their community via their private Facebook group, access resources on their website from partner organizations, browse blog posts featuring stories from hundreds of other female thrivers of color, and learn about upcoming events. They’ve even launched a podcast, Baddie 2 Baddie, and their community ambassadors help spread the word to reach more minority women in their local communities, empowering and advocating along the way.
“A lot of people will send us messages and be like ‘Oh my God, you don’t know how much that I needed this’ or, ‘I had no idea that there were other people out here that were going through the same thing.’ And you know, that’s the goal, right?”
Fun Facts About Marissa
1. She is originally from Tacoma, Washington, but now lives in Atlanta near her sister.
2. She loves wine tasting and traveling – sounds pretty good to us, too!
3. She works as a medical assistant and loves to advocate for her patients.