A Miami breast cancer survivor finds her purpose while encouraging others in the fight to live strong
When Kim Heard was diagnosed with breast cancer, she found comfort in befriending survivors.
“I wanted to find women who had gone through what I was about to start,” she says. “I wanted to talk and listen without having a pity party.”
Heard was 38 when she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer and underwent a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. Now a 20-year survivor, she is actively involved in the Miami breast cancer community through her work with Susan G. Komen and Ford Motor Co.’s Warriors in Pink program.
“I never thought cancer would kill me,” she says. “So after I was diagnosed, I knew that I wanted to dedicate myself to help women who would go through this too.”
Heard focuses on raising awareness and supporting others with similar cancers. She also works with Miami’s Caribbean community to reshape how women’s health issues are talked about.
As one of the most active volunteers in Miami, Heard was named a “Model of Courage” through the Warriors in Pink program, which provides free resources to give patients and survivors “more good days.”
“After I was first diagnosed, my daughter asked me, ‘Why did this have to happen to you?’ ” Heard remembers. “I told her that everything happens as it’s meant to and there will be a reason for it.”
For Heard, a breast cancer diagnosis led her to a world of sisterhood she otherwise would have never discovered.
“I didn’t really have a purpose before this,” she says. “Now I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
In the two years since Heard was chosen as a “Model of Courage,” she has organized free community mammogram tests, hosted mixers, led educational sessions and celebrated survivorship with others in South Florida.
Through Ford’s Warriors in Pink program, Heard also raises awareness about free resources for patients and survivors, such as a subscription to a meditation app, meal-kit deliveries and access to an online platform that provides errand, childcare and ride services.
“When this happens, you have so many questions,” she says. “There are so many clinicians around, but sometimes, the best people to answer them are those who went through it themselves.”
Heard also was part of Ford’s “More Good Days Tour,” a free activity series for patients and survivors. Activities ranged from dance classes to private concerts and personal styling sessions, each with the goal to reinvigorate and rejuvenate those fighting breast cancer.
For now, Heard has no plans to slow down. Though her diagnosis was more than 20 years ago, awareness, treatment and recovery remain important to her, she says.
“Breast cancer is one of those things that if you haven’t experienced it yourself, it’s hard to understand,” she says. “Connecting patients and survivors has become my mission.”