MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Rarely will you hear someone refer to a cancer diagnosis as a success story, but that’s exactly how Andrea Ivory sees it.
She says she found a new purpose in life and she’s helping other women stay healthy, one knock at a time.
“I’m a breast cancer survivor knocking on doors to save lives,” Andrea Ivory told CBS4’s Lauren Pastrana.
And she’s knocked on a lot of doors.
“We celebrate a big milestone of visiting 100,000 homes throughout Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties,” she said.
Her team of volunteers doesn’t stop there.
On one recent Saturday morning in Pompano Beach, Andrea and her staff from the Women’s Breast and Heart Initiative hosted a health fair for some of the women they met on doorsteps across South Florida.
“The results have been astounding. The personal stories we’ve had of women who’ve actually changed their lives because we knocked on their door and gave them information,” she said.
Andrea says it’s all about early detection.
She says she was vigilant and had annual mammograms. So when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, she had a variety of treatment options.
Andrea chose to have a bilateral mastectomy and has never looked back.
“I never asked, ‘Why me?’ Instead, I asked, ‘What for?’ I learned that breast cancer wasn’t about me at all. It was about what I could do to empower women,” Andrea explained.
So she created the Women’s Breast and Heart Initiative and used her background as a commercial realtor to build an organization that serves women where they are, in their own homes.
She studied demographics and census tracks to determine which areas of South Florida she should target. Andrea says the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
“When you tell your personal story, they can see your passion, your success, and they listen. And that’s what they want. To engage our audience and move them to change,” she said.
Her grassroots effort has expanded from breast cancer awareness to heart health as well.
We may call it a survival story, but Andrea calls it her success story.
“I can’t take any credit for any of this, other than the fact that I knew I was destined to make a difference. It’s not something that I chose,” she said. “I just knew that my breast cancer was a success story for me.”
Andrea says her initiative is now expanding to college campuses.
The organization will host its “Open the Door Dinner Dance” fundraiser on May 19th.
For more information, visit flbreasthealth.com.