Slice of Life: Beauty all over, the battle against Breast cancer
At the Beauty All Over salon in Linden, the talk isn’t always about hair, it’s often about saving lives.
For more than 15 years, salon owner Darlene Mathews has made it part of her business to battle Breast Cancer.
"I want to do what I can do to help," said Matthews.
She's passionate about it because it's personal. As a child, Darlene lost an Aunt to the disease. As an adult, she was diagnosed.
Darlene was a single mom, afraid and didn’t know a lot about Breast Cancer but she also knew she couldn’t give up.
"I had to fight this out. I wasn't leaving my daughter."
It was a long and hard journey, but when Darlene recovered, she took another life-changing step forward.
Because the Susan G. Komen foundation had helped her so much, Darlene wanted to give back.
In 2002, she joined her first race for the cure. "I went downtown and I saw all these people and all these pink shirts but I didn't see a lot of African-American women."
Knowing that African-American women with Breast Cancer have a higher mortality rate, Darlene had new reason to worry.
"We die a lot faster of it and we are diagnosed the least, so there's something wrong with that picture."
So she started reaching out to other women in the community. At her salon, the door is always open to come in to talk, listen and learn about breast cancer.
The biggest impact is her Komen team. It started with just a few members and has now grown into the hundreds, raising more than $75,000.
Team Beauty All Over is hard to miss on race day. Members wear their smiles, signature "pink Afro wigs" and a lot of pride.
This week, they'll walk again, but a close friend will be missing.
Gayle, who managed the salon for 13 years, just lost her battle with breast cancer.
Darlene said it was truly heartbreaking.
"This one kind of took me because we were so close and I love her so dearly and to see how breast cancer eats away at your body is just so horrific and so that makes me want to keep fighting on."
Darlene said her heart might feel a little heavier on race day, but her motivation, like her spirit, will always be strong.
"I want to make a difference. for some reason God wanted me to take this journey and I was really angry about it at first but now I understand the reason he chose me."