WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — There's a "pink queen" in West Palm Beach.
Her name is Tenecia Sproull and she’s been stage 2 breast cancer survivor for nine years now. She was diagnosed when she was just 37 years old. Sproull now uses her strength to encourage others battling the disease.
"It was tough," said Tenecia Sproull. "It was like one of the darkest challenges of my life with doing chemo, radiation and several failed reconstruction surgeries."
After recovering, Sproull found fulfillment by helping friends of friends who would reach out to her and ask for advice as they were battling the disease. She started creating baskets for them with small things that helped her get through the pain of treatments like lotion, Chapstick, candy to suck on and tea.
"I get my comfort by giving back and just helping others because there's so many people out here dealing with cancer," said Sproull.
Four years after the Pink Queen Foundation became an official nonprofit, Sproull has delivered more than 85 comfort baskets. Taquana Matthews is one of the most recent survivors to receive one. In July, Matthews, a professional truck driver, said she was experiencing sudden pain in her breasts and it got so bad she was unable to continue driving. Days later, at the age of 37, she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.
"I didn't know anything," said Matthews. "I didn't know what to do. I didn't know who to go to for help because I went from working to not being able to do anything."
Matthews' family, aside from she and her daughter, all live out of state. A friend connected her with Sproull and within days, Sproull showed up with a basket for her and also her daughter who suddenly became her mother’s caretaker.
"It meant the world because, at that time, it felt like I didn't have anybody," said Matthews. "Everybody is home. I felt like I was just all alone and Tenecia was like, 'You're not all alone,' and between her and then she let me meet other people and that just seemed like a big old family that I didn't have."
When she's not on the clock working for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, Sproull is in the garage of her West Palm Beach home, creating the comfort baskets. In addition to the products she includes are gift cards for things like food and gas and inspirational messages from other survivors. Sproull also works to secure financial help for people like Matthews who are suddenly forced to step back from their jobs while they go through treatment to survive. The basket is Sproull's first connection but just the beginning of her friendship and guidance to others fighting cancer.
"They're not just a 'We're going to get you a basket and forget about you.' It's we're here through the whole journey and we're going to make sure you're OK.' And sometimes it's just a call or text to say how's everything going that will get you through it," said Matthews.
The Pink Queen Foundation relies on private donations and sponsorships to keep their mission going. If you are interested in donating, you can send a text that says "Fight 2020" to the number 44321. You can also connect with Sproull by visiting the foundation's website. There you can also find information on how to request a comfort basket for you or your loved one.