It took a lot of courage for Overland Park resident Tina Herold to face her breast cancer diagnosis in 2006 at the young age of 34.
By SARA BEANE
Special to The Star
Now, a seven-year survivor of the disease, Herold’s strength is being celebrated by the national Ford Warriors in Pink program. The program sells clothing and accessories online to raise money for four different breast cancer charities.
Herold was one of 11 breast cancer survivors nationwide to be selected as a Ford Model of Courage for both the 2012 and 2013 advertising campaigns.
“My husband bought me a piece of clothing from the Warriors in Pink line in 2007,” Herold said. “I became a fan of them on Facebook and saw that they wanted to use real people that have faced the disease to represent them.”
As a Model of Courage, Herold and her fellow models were included in print ads that ran during breast cancer awareness month last October in major mgazines like “Better Homes and Gardens,” Ladies Home Journal” and “Family Circle.” Herold was even selected to appear separate from the other models in a magazine ad and in a mini documentary about a day in the life of a breast cancer survivor.
Through the media exposure, Herold discovered a new calling: providing support and encouragement to other women who were facing the same disease.
“Because of the ad I have been contacted by women all over the country just for support,” Herold said. “I have written to women all over the United States because of this campaign. And this was exactly what I was looking for when I was diagnosed: support, love and courage.”
Since her diagnosis, Herold has been on a mission to help other women navigate their way through the disease. In 2007, she began Face-2-Face, a support group that meets monthly at a local coffee shop. The group is part of the Young Survival Coalition, an organization that provides support to women under the age of 40 who are diagnosed with breast cancer.
Herold is also a regular volunteer with the Bloch Cancer Hotline. The hotline matches cancer survivors with individuals who have been diagnosed with a similar type of cancer. Through phone calls, she is able to tell her story and answer questions about her own experiences in an environment that suits some people very well.
“Sometimes people will talk to people more easily over the phone,” Herold said. “Some people are just not support group people.”
Regardless of the format, support is always the goal for Herold. And that support extends to women who are facing the loss of their hair due to a round of chemotherapy. In 2008, she opened a by-appointment-only wig shop called Wigged Out. Based on her own experiences of shopping for a wig, Herold was determined to make the process easier for other women.
“One of my friends had a cancer recurrence in 2008 and we went shopping for a wig,” Herold said. “And my own wig shopping experience was horrible. I could not find anything appropriate for people in their 30s and the people helping us had not been through it.”
Sadly, her friend passed away from cancer two months after she opened the shop.
But Herold has been able to help women from all over the country choose a wig. She’s had customers from California, Arizona, Rhode Island and Florida, among other states.
She even had one woman fly all the way from Germany to buy a wig from her.
“We always talk first, we never do the wig first,” Herold said. “Then we get to the wig. My husband says it’s more like a support group than a wig shop.”
Herold is determined to keep talking about breast cancer and the importance of early detection to anyone that will listen. Recently she’s been sharing her own stories with local elementary school guidance counselors and moms’ groups at area churches.
“I felt so alone, ashamed and scared,” Herold said. “And I don’t want anyone to feel alone, ashamed and scared. I want to help them find their hope, their strength and their courage. And by being a survivor my hope is that I am doing that.”