Sylvia and Joe Mercado are MORE THAN PINK!
In August 1987 Sylvia Mercado was 29, a young mom with three children, the youngest of whom was one. Without any family history and not even old enough to have had her first mammogram, she discovered a lump and quickly received her diagnosis. Soon to be a 32-year survivor, she and husband Joe have spent many years helping other women and couples deal with the disease, both in the Fort Worth area and in Florida, where they lived for a time. This year, they are volunteering as co-chairs for the Susan G. Komen Greater Fort Worth More Than Pink Walk on April 27th.
The couple is quick to talk about Sylvia’s cancer journey as a joint, family experience. “We started chemo and Joe was there every Friday treatment with me, and even brought the kids,” Sylvia said recently in an interview at the Mercado’s home in Azle. “He was my rock throughout; we stuck it out together.”
Joe, Teaming Focal & Learning Leader at GE, who has spearheaded the “Ko-men Cave” feature of the Komen Greater Fort Worth race-turned-walk the past few years, has made himself available to talk to men about supporting the women in their lives with breast cancer. Sylvia, Administrative Assistant for THR Mobile Health, who has organized the event’s Survivors’ Tent for many years (now called “Hope Village”), wants women to know the diagnosis of breast cancer doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a death sentence.
“The positive side of breast cancer is that you form so many great meaningful relationships,” the couple agreed. Last year’s switch from a run/walk event to strictly a walk played its part in their decision to become chairs. “People were talking about it being leisurely, which gave them the ability to visit and support each other and make new friends,” Sylvia said. “So, when we were asked to chair this year’s event, we didn’t hesitate.”
The couple credits their impetus to help others with a nurse they met early in their cancer journey who was an 11-year survivor. The inspiration and support they received from her cemented their understanding that people who are newly diagnosed need to know you can live through the disease.
“We want to do anything we can to let people know when cancer comes into your life it’s not the end but the beginning of something amazing,” Sylvia said. Sylvia credits her breast cancer journey with allowing her to have a “fabulous career helping women.”
The couple encourages the community to come out for the April walk. Joe said, “It’s a great event, really a fun celebration. But the important thing is the dollars being raised by the event to help end this disease. Everyone knows someone affected by breast cancer, so this is the right thing to do.”
“For me, the great part about the event is that you get to meet women who have come before you in this fight,” Sylvia said. “We don’t want any other person to go through this disease. It’s a great day to gather and have fun, but the dollars raised help for a very long time afterward.”