By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
Pink is more than the signature color for breast cancer awareness for Yolonda Carter, known to many as Yogi Dada.
“The reality of it goes way beyond a uniform color, so I just said, ‘Let’s do Courage Beyond Pink [as a theme],’” she said, referring to her custom, hand-painted “wearable art,” mostly earrings that are often depicted with pink lions.
Yogi Dada’s Courage Beyond Pink jewelry has been a success among many clients who are breast cancer survivors or currently battling the disease. She makes colorful, vibrant pieces to help survivors feel beautiful after hair loss and to celebrate their stories of fighting or triumph.
“I just said, ‘If I can take this same energy and put it into motion and give back to the community, that [would be] my passion.’”
Yogi Dada, 46—who has used her talent to raise funds for breast cancer awareness organizations, such Susan G. Komen of North Central Alabama and the Circle of Promise—has firsthand experience with the impact of breast cancer: her mother, Victoria Carter, was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in 2008 and died from the disease in 2009.
“We weren’t really prepared for it emotionally,” Yogi Dada said. “The stress of working, caregiving, and seeing your loved one go down physically can break you. You have to be really well-educated about the medical system, insurance, care options. … Even that level of research can be challenging while you’re working and caregiving.”
Yogi Dada and her father cared for her mother. At the time, she had a sales position in optical retail; she worked during the day and took care of her mother before work and in the evenings. Eventually, she switched to a part-time schedule to take care of her mother.
Yogi Dada found strength from taking care of her mother: “I saw how she fought, her diligence, and her faith in God through the entire process. … [I grew] in God during that time, [too], because I had to lean on Him for supernatural strength. I really think [my mother and I] both had a spiritual growth because it made me call on God in a whole different kind of way as a caregiver and as a person going through it.”
Yogi Dada urges those with breast cancer and their family members to do the proper research and know what’s going on at all times.
“It’s becoming an epidemic among women of color,” she said. “[People] really have to take a lot of research into their own hands. You can’t rely solely on the medical institution to do what’s best for [you and your loved ones] with information, prevention, or treatment.”
For example, she said, nutrition is important: “The medical field doesn’t really delve into that. They’ll give you a basic meal plan but nothing that really fights cancer on the level that nutrition can.”
Yogi Dada offered some other helpful tips for anyone dealing with breast cancer.
Seek the best testing and monitor stress levels because “women of color have been diagnosed with breast cancer [more often], and part of that is stress,” she said. “We don’t really have a place we can go to talk about it because we’re conditioned to ‘be strong’ or hold it in.”
Also, “get informed about testing and prevention measures, get as informed as possible about diet, and know your body. Start researching to find out what’s good for your body and what’s not, what fights cancer [for you].”
Yogi Dada’s earrings are available at yogidadallc.com; 30 percent of profits are donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Circle of Promise.