Janet P. Cash, 66, breast cancer awareness advocate

Janet P. Cash, a breast cancer survivor who became an advocate for African American women with the disease and presented a workshop on the matter at an international women's conference in Beijing, has died.

Ms. Cash, 66, of Philadelphia's Wynnefield section, died of pneumonia at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania on Saturday, Sept. 25.

20101001_inq_o-pcash01-a
Janet P. Cash trained women to help others as advocates.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy at age 35, said her cousin Jeanne Gee. A few years later, Ms. Cash became a "staunch breast cancer advocate," Gee said.

Ms. Cash "wanted to see breast cancer eradicated because it had affected her life so greatly," Gee said.

To raise awareness, Ms. Cash traveled throughout the United States, speaking about the disease and its impact on women.

"She traveled all over the world, advocating the treatment and eradication of breast cancer among African American women and all women," Gee said.

In 1995, Ms. Cash attended the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, conducting a workshop, African American Women and Breast Cancer.

A year later she cofounded Sisters in Touch, a breast cancer awareness program for African American women for the Black Women's Health Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group.

Brenda Shelton-Dunston, executive director of the Black Women's Health Alliance, described Ms. Cash as a tireless activist who trained hundreds of women in the Philadelphia area to be breast cancer awareness advocates.

"Janet was a 25-year breast cancer survivor," Dunston said. "She has touched so many lives. She provided training; she was compassionate and sensitive.

"She will be missed, but she would want us to continue her legacy," Dunston said. "She was phenomenal."

Ms. Cash "really impacted a lot of lives," Gee said. "She had the ability to make . . . anyone she met feel like her closest friend. She was a very persuasive person."

She received the Breast Cancer Survivor of the Year Award from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in 2001, and the Linda Creed Epstein Foundation's Spirit of Hope Award, in 2006, among other honors for her advocacy work.

Ms. Cash also volunteered at St. Joseph's Hospital in North Philadelphia and did breast cancer awareness work for the Linda Creed Epstein Foundation, Gee said.

Born on Aug. 21, 1944, in Philadelphia, Ms. Cash was the daughter of the late Sadie Bell Cash and William Bill "Ready" Cash, a catcher for the Philadelphia Stars of Negro League baseball.

She was a graduate of Bartram High School and attended Cheyney University.

Ms. Cash was married to the late Robert Cooke, whom she divorced in the 1970s, Gee said.

Before she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Ms. Cash worked as an administrative assistant at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania for 12 years.

Gee said that she and Ms. Cash spent much time together and that they were avid flower and vegetable gardeners and crafters, making such things as picture frames and floral arrangements.

Ms. Cash was also an interior designer and enjoyed books on black history and biographies, Gee said.

"She dressed beautifully," Gee said. "She was elegant and stylish. And she always wanted to help somebody."

In addition to her father, Ms. Cash is survived by two sons, Jeffrey Cooke and Robert Cooke; and brothers William Cash Jr. and Michael Cash.

A viewing will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 1., at First African Baptist Church, 901 Clifton Ave., Sharon Hill. Burial will follow at Fernwood Cemetery in Yeadon.

 


Contact staff writer Vernon Clark at 215-854-5717 or vclark@phillynews.com.