“We can overcome it, but it takes a community to do so”: Cynthia Sturgeon, Omaha’s unknown hero, died earlier this week
OMAHA, Nebraska – A retrospective on the life of an Omaha pioneer.
Her admirers claim this, but she would never.
In 2017, Cynthia Sturgeon “We can overcome it, but it takes a community to do so.”
How can you quantify a well-lived life?
For Cynthia Sturgeon, it is the legions of women she leaves behind, including these three breast cancer survivors.
“I have a wonderful and great family, but no one else had been diagnosed with breast cancer,” said six-year survivor Maggie Marsh. “At the age of 32, I was feeling really lost and lonely.”
At age 40, Cynthia Sturgeon received a breast cancer diagnosis. A devastating blow to everybody.
In 2017, Cynthia stated, “The survivor is not your basic identity. It has occurred, but it is not your essence.”
However, as she went through the regular line of treatment, she discovered something. A gap.
“She taught us to be hopeful and vulnerable and share our story so we can help the next person who will be walking in the journey we walked in,” said two-time, 11-year survivor Kelly Konen.
Other breast cancer groups’ efforts to generate millions of dollars for research have greatly advanced early diagnosis and medication.
However, she sensed a void between the diagnosis and optimism.
Cynthia founded an organization with the name Project Pink’d.
The money stays in the community, with the objective of providing breast cancer survivors with more alternatives for nourishing their mind, body, and soul.
In 2021, Cynthia “Financial assistance is the heart of what we do. To answer the question of ‘how do I live my best life in spite of the disease.’”
The annual fundraiser became a source of pride and fellowship, a way to celebrate the difference-making.
“I’ve seen it grow in the last 11-12 years from 400 guests attending the event to 1,000,” said 31-year survivor Dianna Hite. “If we had room for more, we would take on more.”
Six years ago, when Cynthia’s metastatic breast cancer recurred, doctors gave her two years to survive.
In time, her husband David became a caretaker. She extended the two-year period to six years.
This week, on the afternoon of her 55th birthday, Cynthia passed away.
A year ago, in August of 2021, she stated:
“I’m well past my expiration date. We joke about it, but I am. I have been given a gift that’s longer than statistics would have given me, and I’m going to keep serving as long as I possibly can. It’s what I do.”
Those that promote the Project Pinkd message continue to create a lasting legacy.
Cynthia devised a comprehensive succession plan to ensure that her nonprofit would continue to perform admirable work.
Wednesday, September 7, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., will be her memorial service in the Hilton Downtown Omaha’s main ballroom.
A few days beforehand, a ceremony will be conducted in her childhood church in Shreveport, Louisiana.