Breaking News
More () »

Meet October's Neighborhood Hero Sonja Croone

Sonja Croone is a breast cancer survivor who makes a difference in the lives of others with the disease.

FLORENCE, Ala. — Meet this month's Neighborhood Hero, Sonja Croone. She's a breast cancer survivor who now helps others dealing with the disease.

"She is all about the community. She's all about making it where you feel special. She makes it feel where you belong." 

"She doesn't have to do this, the things that she does and then for to make everything free, because she knows what the medicine and the treatments and everything it's expensive. And just anytime you walk in a room with her, it's...you feel all the love."

These words of praise are from Traci Fry-Champion and Catara Copeland. They are both breast cancer survivors and friends with Croone.

Beside being a survivor, Croone is also an entrepreneur, with a photography business, Smiling Faces Photography, and she's the founder and CEO of Pink Alabama. She shared why she does what she does. "When I started my business in 2012, you know, when I...when I got my studio, it was just something I wanted to do. I said, 'What way can I make an impact?'. And I started actually, Pink Alabama three years prior to me being diagnosed, but once I was told that I had breast cancer... it really it touched deeper."

Through both of those avenues, she's able to combine her passion for photography with her compassion for fellow breast cancer survivors by offering portraits to them for free. Croone's friends explain the impact these portraits have... 

"Going through cancer and losing your hair or going through cancer is a hard thing on your body anyway, but just to be able to feel beautiful and dress up and look beautiful. And she takes pictures and she's an amazing photographer anyway. But you know, she's just a beautiful person, and she brings that out of everybody. Ahe brings the happiness and the liveliness and makes you feel amazing," shared Traci Fry-Champion.

Catara Copeland added, "When you lose your hair, you don't feel pretty, or like, you lose weight or some of the medicine might make you gain weight. But just having somebody that's supportive and she always would call you beautiful and encourage you like that's helped me on like my bad days."

RELATED: Breast Cancer Awareness Month: How early detection could save lives

Beyond free photos and boosts of confidence, Croone has been able to create a community where survival and support are the cornerstones. Fry-Champion says, "They know when you cry like your tears and things like, you never have to say anything and they know what you're going through. Other people be asking or trying to give you advice, but if you don't- you haven't been through it or really even know somebody personally close to you that's been through it. You can't...you will never understand."

As for Copeland, she wants people to know, "Here, when we talk about survivor and supporting each other, we need to be there for each other. If something happened within that family or they're needing a ride to treatment, or anything, that's what we're there for. We're there for each other. It's like I said, it's beyond just pictures, is beyond pictures. you know the support go way beyond that."

If you know someone who you'd like to see featured as a Neighborhood Hero, click here to nominate them.

RELATED: September's Neighborhood Hero is also known as The Birthday Fairy

RELATED: Neighborhood Heroes: Meet Jerome Wallace

Before You Leave, Check This Out