Susan G. Komen spreads awareness with a new store in Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza

By Samantha Katzman

imageBack in October, the Susan G. Komen Brest Cancer Foundation opened one of its temporary PINK stores opened in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. The store was only meant to stay open for about a month. But now, as March begins, the store is still there. The community response to the shop, which offers free breast cancer screenings and other health services, was so strong that the store is now open permanently.

PINK’s success is a point of pride for DaJuan Wilson, who has managed the shop since it opened. Wilson has seen the impact that a store like this can have in a community like Crenshaw.

“[We want] to bring awareness to the community,” he said, “to give information, which is awareness, products and support.”

“We saw the good that it did,” Wilson said about the decision to stay. “There’s a lot of people who were unaware and there’s a lot of people who needed the services that we have.”

Oliver Guillen, the mall manager, agreed. “It was so well received, and the owners of the mall feel that it is such a great service, especially in the area that we’re in,” Guillen said.

The store provides mammogram screening to uninsured women over 40 years old. Wilson knows there is a lack of information given to people in low-income minority areas like Crenshaw, and his role gives him the means to educate the community.

The center provides screenings every Saturday for three hours in the afternoon. It has seen hundreds of women who have filled up their appointment slots. The screening results are sent by mail to the homes of the clients, and their information is kept completely confidential. Some women, Wilson said, have come in thanking them for the screening. The store reaches groups of people who may otherwise not receive these tests.

image“Black and Hispanic communities are really affected with certain things like diabetes and cancer so on and so forth,” Guillen said. “They have limited resources available to them to be able to really diagnose, treat, and ask questions even.” It’s important to keep PINK open to give area residents who are without healthcare, or struggling financially, time to find their way to it and the services it offers, he said.

“I know a lot of ladies on welfare that could use this service,” said local resident and mall regular Dolores Powell.

Wilson makes sure everyone who enters to shop is made aware of the range of services PINK offers.

Wilson might not appear the most likely advocate for women’s health. He is a personal trainer, and stands over six feet tall with a strong, muscular build and kind eyes. A mobile training program takes him from his home in Crenshaw to the far-flung corners of Los Angeles. He says he has constant interactions with every stripe of resident throughout the city, which has heightened his awareness to the need for a proactive approach to breast cancer — which crosses every racial and economic line.

His passion for health and for keeping women informed about their well-being is only part of the reason he is so passionate about Susan G. Komen and the cause.

“My auntie and grandmother both had breast cancer,” he said. The late detection of their illnesses and their untimely deaths is a driving force behind his commitment to getting women screened for breast cancer early and often.

Wilson is inspired by the positive feedback the store immediately gained.

“There are still a lot of people that don’t know about this store,” Wilson said, “so we are trying to reach out to people who don’t know.”

The commitment of PINK to remain in the mall indefinitely is crucial to its impact, he said, as many residents have yet to discover it.

“I didn’t even know that store was there,” said Dolores Powell, “But it will definitely help the community.”

Breast cancer survivors speak out about the deadly disease

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Breast cancer is the second most common cancer, after skin cancer, in women. The chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer some time in her life is less than one in eight.

In an effort to support National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, The South Los Angeles Report visited and listened to stories from women affected by the disease. The Women of Color Breast Cancer Survivors Support Group is made up of cancer survivors, supporters of cancer survivors and those currently receiving treatment for cancer.


Housed in a dilapidated medical building on a sleepy street in Inglewood, the Women of Color Breast Cancer Survivors Support Group works to educate women on a cancer that kills one woman in the United States every 15 minutes.

“I didn’t know black women got breast cancer,” said Happy Johnson, who was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer in 1998. “I never saw someone who looked like me on a poster.”

Listen to Johnson’s story:

The women gathered to tell their stories in hopes that more black and Hispanic women will realize breast cancer can happen to them.

“Early detection is key,” said two-year survivor Mary Battle. “I am a witness of that.”

Battle was diagnosed at the age of 60 with Stage 0 breast cancer, the least aggressive form of the disease.

“I am the third straight generation in my family affected with cancer,” Battle said.

Battle had a double mastectomy a month after she was diagnosed.

“I wasn’t fooling around,” she said.

Listen to Battle’s story:

Marva Cobb, whose mother died of breast cancer in 1996, was diagnosed in 2004. Cobb immediately turned to the Women of Color Breast Cancer Survivors Support Group, a group that offered so much support to her mother.

Listen to Cobb’s story: