A True Role Model
- Beauty-tech CEO Dawn Myers, 36, founder of The Most, is battling stage 3 colorectal cancer.
- Myers knows that she is fortunate compared to many people stressed and struggling to find the means to pay for cancer treatment, especially women of color, and urges people to step up.
- Colorectal cancer affects your large intestine (colon) or the end of your intestine (rectum). The cancer starts when abnormal lumps called polyps grow in the colon or rectum. If you don’t have these polyps removed, they can sometimes turn into cancer.
“My company funds my salary which funds my treatment. Taking care of business IS taking care of my health, both physically and mentally,” Myers, who is based in Washington D.C., said in a recent video on her Instagram. “These small daily wins keep me from spiraling into the abyss. The business needs me and I need the business. It’s a beautiful equilibrium.”Read More
“FUND BLACK WOMEN. Be there. Show the fuck up,” she urges. “And not BS diversity line item funding either. Fund us the way our traction merits so we can build teams and maybe not do the work of 5 humans while building badass technology and battling cancer.”
It is important to note that Myers is not solely leaning on others to make a difference and is doing a fair share of the work herself.
“We have also raised over $750,000 of capital from a diverse group of institutional funds and strategic partners including Black Star Fund, Fempire Fund, New Voices Fund, Dow, Glossier, Proctor & Gamble and Shea Moisture,” she said in an interview with Black Enterprise of her philanthropy through her business projects. “We are now gearing up for a $2.5 million series seed fundraise.”
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Furthermore, Myers has a message for the people telling her to “take the cape off” or “stop trying to be super woman.”
“Let me assure you, that is a privilege I do not have,” she wrote, suggesting she is not stopping any time soon, and certainly not letting cancer stop her.
Myers strives for balance among the chaos of juggling her personal life and professional career, and showed a glimpse of her beautiful “self-care” trip to Italy late last year.
“It’s the wonder and the mess and the beauty of it all for me,” she wrote next to a striking photo of herself stretching in front of a window in a quaint, sun-lit hotel room.
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Dawn’s Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis
Though Dawn is evidently a badass, she admits that the diagnosis did indeed throw her, as it does for most people processing the shocking news with their doctor.
“I had to grapple with the potential that I might not be able to move forward,” she said. “That I might have to just stop and look—it took me to a very dark place. It took me to a place where it just felt like the world was caving in on me. And I didn’t feel for some months like I could handle it. I didn’t feel like I could pull it off.”
Dawn, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment, says she got to a point where she had to decide if she was going to move forward or if she “was going to stop right there.”
“And when I say ‘I was going to stop right there,’ I mean that in very morbid terms,” she shared bravely. “I think that’s something that we don’t talk about enough as entrepreneurs, because that’s a moment as I become more vocal about this—that’s a moment that a lot of entrepreneurs have, whether it’s because of a cancer diagnosis or something else. I had to make a very firm decision to let my faith carry me and to keep going.”
Cancer Has Given Her Confidence
Now, thankfully she is past most of the darkness and is seeing the light of what her sickness is bringing her: confidence.
“Cancer has given me tremendous confidence,” she says. “Now, I’ve never lacked confidence. But this cancer diagnosis took that to a completely different level because I found that whatever imposter syndrome you have, whatever doubt you have, that it is really you, your merit, your ability that’s getting you through … So it just kind of amped me up a little bit more.”
She doesn’t put as much pressure on herself physically to look so “put together,” as many women, especially businesswomen, feel the need to do.
“The hair has got to be done, the nails got to be done. You got to be on point,” she says of her day-to-day beauty ritual before cancer. “And I don’t have time to do that anymore. I just literally don’t have the bandwidth.”
There is certainly a beauty to feeling confident without all of those “extras,” and Dawn’s story can hopefully inspire others having trouble feeling empowered to try and let those feelings of insecurity go as you fight for your life.
Healing from the inside is what counts during this trying time.
Yes, beauty can put a bounce in your step and make you feel better, but finding the strength from within is often the key to making it through and not worrying about all the other stuff we are so often caught up with.
Understanding Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer affects your large intestine (colon) or the end of your intestine (rectum).
The cancer starts when abnormal lumps called polyps grow in the colon or rectum. If you don’t have these polyps removed, they can sometimes turn into cancer. It takes up to 10 years for a colon polyp to become full-blown cancer, so if you get the recommended screenings, then your doctor will have time to remove any polyps that form before they can cause problems.
SurvivorNet medical advisor Dr. Heather Yeo, a colorectal surgeon at Weill Cornell in New York, recommends that people at average risk of colon cancer start regular screening at age 45.
“Colon cancer is considered a silent and deadly killer, Dr. Yeo explained. “What happens is people often don’t know that they have colon cancer. They don’t have any symptoms. That’s why we screen for colon cancer in the United States.”
Dr. Yeo says that you should be screened for colon cancer, even if you have no family history.
“Once you have your initial screening colonoscopy, if there are no polyps and you have no high risk factors, usually once every 10 years is fine,” Dr. Yeo said. Colon cancer is a slowly progressing cancer.
If you do have family history of colon cancer, Dr. Yeo says that you should be screened about 10 years before your family member had colon cancer. “So if you have a family member that was 53, you should be screened at 43.”
You should also make sure that you have no other risk factors, like irritable bowel syndrome or lifestyle factors such as excessive alcohol use or smoking, along with a potential genetic correlation. Talk to a genetic counselor or a colorectal surgeon to try to figure out whether you have a higher risk of having colon cancer.