Denise Peoples is a phoenix rising from the ashes of what might sound like defeat. Except that she’s the victor, not the victim. The former Rams cheerleader, many-faceted entrepreneur, and author of WOMEN ENOUGH, says, “I discovered that I had breast cancer in 2012. And like the majority of cancer patients, I ended my toxic, 26-year marriage as a crucial part of my recovery. In the process, I lost about 95% of my very substantial income and wealth. Did it hurt? What do you think? Was it worth it? Yes, yes, it was.”
The effervescent Denise with the zillion-watt smile was the seeming picture of health when she suddenly felt pain in her left breast. She was past menopause, so it wasn’t PMS. Her kids grown, she had recently embarked on a new fitness regimen and was hammering her body into fighting form with weight-training. “I lost weight, my skin was glowing, I looked fit, the best I had looked in years, and I had cancer. AGGRESSIVE cancer.” She says “Cancer was the wake-up call for me to stop and change. There was no genetic history of breast cancer in my family. I have A+ positive blood-type, very healthy. My oncologist confirmed that outside forces -- trauma-- can trigger cancer, and I knew that, with my bald head from the chemo and radiation, I had to walk away from that marriage and my money. I had to stop being co-dependent. I just knew that I couldn’t do another day in that skin.”
After a lumpectomy and during the customized treatment “cocktails,” Denise read the Book of Job, and friends gave her a slingshot that she carried in her back pocket, likening her to the young King David who slew the giant Goliath--cancer-- with just seven smooth stones. “The hymn Amazing Grace played in my ear, and I was attended by the Archangels Raphael and Michael-- and hey, Michael threw Satan out of Paradise, so I knew I was in good hands.”
For a while, Denise recounts that she did think God was punishing her for some unknown trespass. “But now I know that it’s my destiny. I am the Pied Piper for good. In December, I will be symptom-free for ten years, and I wouldn’t take nothin’ for my journey now.”
Denise’s current company teaches critical math skills to kids:
Texas entrepreneur and coffee-guru Desiree Crawford says, “Love the woman in the mirror. Pour into her! Practice grace and peace. Our strength has been passed on from the women who came before us. It's our turn now.”
Her custom mobile coffee bar, established in 2021, is named The Pourbox, but this coffee cantina has nothing to do with poverty. Her caffeinated mantra: “You can’t pour from an empty cup, take care of yourself.” She adds, “I have found a great cup of coffee is a global practice that no matter where you are in the world…coffee alone or with company connotes a culture of warmth. There is so much community and conversation around a cup of coffee, people meet, socialize, study, begin work or just work in coffeehouses and cafés, on porches and at a water’s edge, at dawn on a forest campsite. For me, a cup of coffee reminds me daily to pour into myself as I do others.”
Her luscious waving locks, glowing skin and powerful features are the result of noble ancestry: “I identify ethnically and culturally as Black and a Latina...or Afro-Latina. I am a Black Seminole, the daughter of Guillermina Emma Crawford, and Williard Crawford. My mom is a direct descendant of Medal of Honor recipient / winner Isaac Payne, Black Seminole Indian Scout. I am truly blessed and proud to have my mother here. She is the matriarch of our family and was born in Nacimiento de los Negros in Coah, Mexico. Also known as Mascogos.”
What does she love about life right now? “Seeing my own growth as a mother, a grandmother, a daughter, a sister, a friend...beginning to recognize and affirm my value to others and appreciate my journey, as who I am today, and the influence of my beautiful mother. Seeing those values for family, and love and faith reflected in the women my daughters have become.”
Virginia visionary Marcia “Pooch” Paige founded www.melanin-rx.com to address a common request: we all want to be treated by medical professionals who look like us, and understand where we’re coming from culturally. Given the inexcusable disparities in American medical care with which Black people must contend, Miss Marcia’s groundbreaking gambit is right on time. Providing cultural intelligence as part of medical care is the first essential step to closing the racial gap. And not only does the site facilitate access to medical professionals of color and their services-- there’s also the helpful Daily Dose Blog which answers so many of our health questions!
We caught recently up with “Pooch,” born under the sign of Libra, and she set us straight on several things. She describes her passion this way: “To connect people to someone they need to know or experience. That is my zone of genius.” Her message to Black women everywhere: “You are absolutely enough in whatever space you are presently in. OWN IT AND TAKE UP SPACE!”
What she values most today, she says, are time and relationships. The last time she had a falling out with a friend was because… “We didn’t value our friendship enough to be totally honest and transparent about what the real issues were. I no longer have time/patience/space/energy for convincing others who I am. I no longer babysit others’ insecurities they have to work out within themselves. Something I've given up, because of my age, are people who no longer serve or feed me emotionally or spiritually. Peace has a bigger price tag than I realize.” The most important human quality in her world: “Grace, it encourages non-judgment, strength to forgive but not forget, compassion when love is not enough.”
She says the best part about being her age is… “I don’t look like what I have been through.” Still on her bucket-list: “To marry my best friend, my platform to become a household name, and doing a cooking/wine tasting through Italy and Napa Valley.” To which we raise a glass and say, Cheers, Miss Marcia! See you in Tuscany!