Honorees, attendees and supporters are seen at the 7th Annual Warriors Inc. Survivors Celebration of Reflection Gala. Photos: Haroon Rajaee

CHICAGO—Warriors Talk Inc. recently held its 7th Annual Survivors Celebration of Reflection Gala at the Crystal Sky Banquets in the Chicago suburb of McCook, Illinois, was on October 28. This year’s theme for the gala was “A Season to Embrace,” honoring survivors of cancer and those who are still in the battle.

“Black people are more likely to die from most cancers and to live the shortest amount of time after a cancer diagnosis than any other racial/ethnic group. Black women are 41 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than White women, despite being less likely to be diagnosed with it,” reported the American Cancer Society on its website.

Kacia Muhammad, on left, and Reshelle
Matheny, founder of Warriors Talk Inc. pose for
a photo at the event

Chicago resident and mother of five Reshelle Matheny was diagnosed with Stage 2 triple negative breast cancer in November 2013. She has a sister who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. Her sister, unfortunately, passed away from the disease.

The passing of her sister, along with her own diagnosis, inspired Reshelle to create a nonprofit dedicated to providing education and resources for women and men in 2014.


“The passing of my sister really put me on my journey to birth Warriors Talk Inc. I just started sharing my journey. The mission of the organization is to empower individuals into action for a healthier lifestyle before, during, and after a cancer diagnosis,” says Ms. Matheny.

Every Monday from 6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. CDT, the Warriors Talk podcast can be accessed at intellectualradio.com. The podcast covers topics such as “How cancer and other diseases are running rampant throughout our country.”

“The mission of the podcast is to move from awareness towards action. Listeners are left feeling empowered, informed, and connected to not only survive but also thrive in life. Guests on the show have consisted of battle survivors, doctors, nurses, researchers, and more,” Ms. Matheny explained.

In 2015, Warriors Talk, Inc., hosted its first annual Survivors Night of Reflection Gala. The gala allows survivors to reflect on their journeys, express their gratitude for life, and share their wisdom after conquering cancer. The gala is not only for survivors but also for warriors—men and women—who are currently in a battle with cancer.

Reshelle’s passion to inform and educate as many people as possible regarding cancer led her to write a book, “Take Charge of Cancer: Empowering the Warrior Within.”

Karen Hall, who attended the gala, is a two-time cancer survivor. She is also the founder and CEO of Cancer Support Team. “I am a mother, advocate, caregiver, health care director, and a community navigator. I understand what it takes to walk the journey of cancer, that is why I have designed a cancer support team,” she said. Its mission, she explained, is to empower, encourage, and inspire individuals affected by cancer. “We hold support group meetings for survivors and caregivers, we also give away free wigs and care bags,” said Ms. Hall.

Gala honoree LaTonya Teplan

Brenda Venor is currently in the battle and was a special honoree at this year’s gala. “I was diagnosed in May 2023 with triple-negative carcinoma, a form of breast cancer. Being diagnosed and living with cancer has caused a dramatic change in my lifestyle, and quality of life,” she told The Final Call. “At the time of my diagnosis, I worked as a caregiver, and I had to give up my job. This illness is very painful, very debilitating. I have not worked, I have not went to church for quite some time because I just do not have the energy. I went to the grocery store and almost passed out; I just do not have any energy,” Ms. Venor shared.

The gala’s co-host, Kacia Muhammad, and Reshelle have been friends since they were 14 years old. “When she confided in me about her cancer diagnosis, I felt that deeply. Reshelle means a lot to me, and she was the first close person I knew with cancer. I am proud of her for writing a book and honoring those struggling with cancer even through her own journey,” said Kacia Muhammad. “I wanted to assist her in whatever way I could, so I attended the second gala she held and it has been my pleasure working with Reshelle.”

Living with the disease is challenging.

“I’m just trying to take it day by day,” said Ms. Venor. “I thought once I completed chemotherapy in October that I would be done with treatment and then I found out that I need to do radiation. Now I am trying to get mentally prepared for radiation. I have three adult children, and they are supportive.”

Gala honoree Karen

LaTonya Teplan was also an honoree. She was diagnosed with a form of breast cancer known as invasive ductal carcinoma stage 2B, in August 2022. “I have undergone surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, and I have three infusions to do in order to build up my bone marrow,” she shared. “Living with cancer has been a journey, very life-changing. I quit my corporate job because that was not my calling, God wants me to help other people. I just received a certification as a CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant), I want to be of benefit to others instead of shareholders,” Ms. Teplan added.

“I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2009, and I’ve been free of cancer since October 19, 2009, the day of my surgery,” said Tracy R. Kincaid. However, recently during a checkup a lump was found, and she was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer and is scheduled to have surgery soon. She has found a good resource with what Warriors Talk provides.

“I have definitely benefited from the health information Warriors Talk provides. I am now mindful of what I eat and drink. I love how Reshelle puts into the forefront of moving from being aware into action,” says Ms. Kincaid.

For more information about Warriors Talk, visit warriorstalk.org.