Keeshia Jones: ABCD is a Hidden Gem
— by Gina Rich
November 30, 2021
For years, Keeshia Jones had regular mammograms without any sign of a problem. But in July 2018, her screening mammogram revealed something suspicious. After more testing, Keeshia learned she had breast cancer.
As a longtime volunteer for the Jane Cremer Foundation, a southeastern Wisconsin organization promoting awareness of cancer and other diseases impacting women, Keeshia was experienced in helping others learn about cancer. Now she was the one navigating the diagnosis and learning how important it is to advocate for yourself.
In some ways, Keeshia felt prepared. Because of her volunteer efforts, she had a wealth of information at her fingertips and knew the right questions to ask. And fortunately, her cancer was detected early. “I had a wonderful care team at Froedtert Hospital’s Clinical Cancer Center,” says Keeshia, who works at Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Following treatment, Keeshia began looking for ways to help others who were facing cancer. In fall 2019, she organized a free breast cancer awareness program at the Kenosha Public Library, but she still wanted to do more. She remembered receiving information about ABCD: After Breast Cancer Diagnosis. “I liked the idea of the one-to-one mentoring,” she says. She also appreciated the way ABCD offers support not only to patients, but also to their loved ones.
Keeshia completed her Mentor training virtually in December 2020. Since then, she has mentored several women. What makes ABCD special, she says, is how personalized the matches are and how quickly those matches are made, enabling Participants to access critical support when they need it most.
Another important aspect of ABCD’s program, Keeshia notes, is that people don’t have to be actively undergoing treatment to be matched with a Mentor. A person might be five years out from treatment and suddenly realize, “Hey, I feel like I need to talk to somebody,” Keeshia says. No matter when someone needs support, ABCD can help.
A breast cancer diagnosis can be isolating, and even more so during a pandemic. During phone conversations with Participants, Keeshia has noticed that people really want to talk, and having someone to listen is important. After making that initial connection, she checks in regularly with Participants via text. While some patients need short-term support, others have ongoing questions as they progress through treatment and recovery.
In addition to serving as a Mentor, Keeshia continues to volunteer for other organizations including the American Cancer Society. She also started a local support group of Sisters Network, a breast cancer survivorship organization geared toward African American women.
Keeshia loves to travel and spend time with her family. She’s a mother of four and grandmother of two, and she recently celebrated her 26th wedding anniversary with her husband.
For Keeshia, ABCD is a “hidden gem” that stands out among other support organizations because its Mentor matches are so specific and customized. With every match, “you’re basically putting two strangers together, but we have this instant connection.” That connection is vital because it enables Participants to feel comfortable with their Mentors right away, leading to authentic conversations.
“From the minute we start talking,” Keeshia says, “we feel like we’re in this network, this sisterhood.”
Keeshia believes that faith and family have helped her tremendously in facing cancer. She encourages others to find joy in their journeys.