Michel Sproles is someone who has lived through the experience of being diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age. Sproles is a mother, wife to 2018 NFL champion Darren Sproles of the Philadelphia Eagles, and entrepreneur. In 2012, at the age of 28, she was diagnosed with Ductoral Carcinoma In-Situ (DCIS) also known as Stage 0 Breast Cancer. Through her company, The Pink Hair Line, the breast cancer survivor provides wigs and hair extensions for black women undergoing chemotherapy.
After giving birth to her second child, Sproles noticed her right breast appeared abnormal. After listening to her body, she sought medical attention multiple times from different doctors. She says, “It was my persistence and spiritual intuition that saved my life,” after being referred for a mammogram which ultimately detected what she suspected.
“After receiving my diagnosis, I immediately went into survival mode. I began to research the disease so when I met with my surgeon and oncologist I can ask specific questions, pertaining to my diagnosis and be informed so that I can make the best medical choices for my family and I. Experiencing something this life-changing just put things in perspective for me such as how short life is and how precious each moment can be,” says Sproles.
Advocate for your health
While the stage 0, breast cancer is non-life-threatening, Sproles decided to be proactive about the future of her health by undergoing a double mastectomy.
“I made the radical decision to have a double mastectomy to give me the lowest possible chance of a reoccurrence. When you are diagnosed with stage 0, breast cancer, and you remove both breast, the chances of reoccurrence are less than 1%. The average woman has a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime and I now have less than 1%.”
Sproles’ diagnosis and journey to wellness also changed her life and mission as a business owner. And while she has been cancer free for six years, she is vocal about spreading awareness about the disease, especially, for black women.
Keep pushing towards your purpose
“I encourage women to get their yearly exams. It’s also really important to be informed of your resources and things offered to us in our communities. I try to get this message out through my social media platforms as well as photo campaigns and hosting healthcare events,” says Sproles.
She’s right – did you know that black women 35 years old and younger are two times more likely to develop breast cancer than young white women? And while white women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, black women are three times more likely to die from complications of the disease. In fact, African American women 45 years old and younger are disproportionately affected by breast cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the disease becomes more prevalent among young black women, it is recommended they receive mammograms earlier than the previously-advised age of 40, and get in tune with their bodies.
“Through my journey I came across and met many women who underwent chemotherapy and one of their biggest complaints and concern was losing their hair and not being able to find adequate wigs that looked natural. While experiencing something life altering such as cancer, it’s important to maintain as much normalcy as possible and something as simple as a quality wig can make a woman experiencing this feel normal and beautiful,” she explains.
The mission of her company is to use the beauty industry as a tool to empower and educate women about the importance of proactive healthcare. In 2015, she launched the company, and in September 2018, she opened the Pink Line Hair store in San Diego, California.
Since founding her hair line, she has committed to making three to four wigs per month to donate to women in need.
“I was fortunate enough to not have to undergo chemotherapy and experience hair loss, therefore I vowed to give back to this community of women; and I felt providing quality wigs was a way that can make these women feel beautiful even while being in one of the biggest fights of their life.”
Being a survivor and the CEO of a premium extension company that helps women see themselves differently is part of what keeps Sproles going. For women who are fighting cancer and survivors, she offers this advice: “I encourage them to truly keep GOD at the center, and surround yourself with nothing but positivity. Repeating positive affirmations and healing scriptures aloud daily is what helped me in what was my toughest MENTAL BATTLE.”
And for women who might want to launch a company, she says — go for it!
“I encourage starting out with a Goal Sheet of things you want to accomplish. Then create a business plan, and timeline to hold you accountable. Idle time is the devil’s workshop, so focusing on a project such as starting a business is a for sure way to keep your mind on positive thoughts and not on the storm that GOD will surely bring you out of,” says Sproles.
The diagnosis doesn’t have to be the end of your story. You can thrive and continue to do business as usual.