Heather Salazar, a Daytonian and a fighter, is about to have her story told to the nation.
The president and CEO of the Dayton-based non-profit organization, Pink Ribbon Girls, is featured in the Oct. 7 edition of People magazine. The issue, which hit newsstands last Friday, features a two-page article highlighting Salazar’s inspirational story of loss, adoption and breast cancer.
On Tuesday, Oct. 1, Salazar will also appear on the daytime-talk show “Tamron Hall” to share the Pink Ribbon Girls story.
>> PODCAST: Heather Salazar imagined dying in front of her kids
In 2005 — just one year after Salazar and her husband Steve adopted their fourth child, Lexi — Salazar was diagnosed with the same aggressive breast cancer that killed baby Lexi’s 24-year-old biological mother. Salazar beat her cancer and now fights seven days a week to make sure women have the support that Lexi’s mother did not have.
>> Daytonian of the Week: Heather Salazar, survivor and Pink Ribbon Girls president
When the Salazars met Lexi’s biological mother, Alexis, in 2002, there was no support system for the young mother fighting HER2-positive aggressive, late-stage breast cancer. Salazar remembered how Alexis said she had to take the RTA bus home from her own mastectomy. There was no help with food, transportation or emotional support before the Salazars began taking Alexis to treatments and helping to care for her.
Sadly, Alexis passed away only a few months later in 2003, but not before Salazar and her family made the decision to adopt Lexi, so that Alexis would be comforted knowing her daughter had a safe, good home.
Since helping to launch and becoming the CEO and president of PRG in 2012, the 501c3 non-profit now offers free direct services of meals, house cleaning, rides to treatment and peer support. The core of PRG’s mission to make sure “No One Travels This Road Alone.” Her organization has helped countless survivors and those currently battling cancer in Dayton, Columbus, Cincinnati and St. Louis.
Salazar said her hope is to use the recent national recognition to take PRG to the next level and continue expanding the organization’s reach.
>> Day to Dream event grants children new beds
“I want to serve everyone,” Salazar said. “I don’t want anyone to not get help because they don’t live in Ohio or Missouri. I have a goal that this becomes a grassroots organization everywhere, nationwide.”
“There really is nothing like family,” Salazar said.“We don’t use that term lightly. What family really means: It means the people who accept you no matter who you are, where there’s no hatred or judgment. The love of a family should be unconditional, and everyone should try their best to provide all they can for the people in their family, emotionally and financially. That is what PRG is. We are a group of people that come together for a common cause and really “show up” for others in our community fighting to get through. We don’t just talk about cancer, we take on cancer. Over half of the people we serve have metastatic cancer. They will be in treatment the rest of their lives. We are there with them through it all.”
>> Pink Ribbon Girls leader shares inspirational journey on TV and gets a big surprise