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2006 Calendar

2006 Calendar

We are all connected – hence when one is sick and needs healing, then we all are accountable to help in the healing and supporting endeavor. As it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to build a foundation of collective energy to help heal and support the breast cancer patient.

We, the Sisters’ Journey family have continued to build our village, hopefully in the manner envisioned by our founder, the late Linda White-Epps. We have strived to be an intricate component in the healing and caring process for the mind, body and spirit of breast cancer survivors, the newly diagnosed, families and friends. With the help and support of “you” the community the “wind beneath our wings” Sisters’ Journey has again been enabled to produce the annual Sisters’ Journey calendar, continue the Sisters’ Journey Support Group and our many other endeavors.

African American women continue to die from breast cancer statistically, in greater numbers, than other ethnic groups .It is that data that has motivated Sisters Journey to celebrate life, and be strong advocates determined to see the day that the gap is closed as a result of better education and awareness in regard to breast cancer and women of color.

This year we have deemed it fitting to dedicate the 2006 calendar to the memory of those survivors that were threads in the fabric of our village. We so appreciate the courage and the sharing of the intimate stories of all our survivors and want to remember the brave ones who have passed, and were pioneers in starting the Sisters’ Journey village on the path that we are on today. We salute those survivors that ran the race and kept the faith until they reached the finish line of their journey.

Sisters’ Journey sends out healing love to the families and friends left with the void of a loss, but we also invite them to continue to be members and advocates of the village, helping to support other breast cancer survivors that are still on their journey. Hopefully, in the process you can find continual healing for yourselves and lessen the pain of your loss. But for this moment, in celebration of this year’s 2006 calendar women, the survivors, and the many warriors, we say congratulations and thank-you. It is because of these extraordinary women, our village is another year stronger and wiser. Again, we, the Sisters’ Journey family thank the supporters for all you do to make our “Village of Healing” a strong and growing one. We wish you God’s blessings. Enjoy this year’s calendar!

The Sisters’ Journey Family

Survivor Stories

Brenda L. Warner, January View My Story »

Brenda L. Warner

In February 2000 while taking a shower I discovered a lump in my left breast. I was devastated and I immediately thought of cancer. I almost lost it in the shower. I pulled myself together but I was bound in fear. I was deathly afraid to go to the doctor. I prayed to the Lord to remove this lump I was feeling. A lot of things were going on in my life at the time. I decided to put Myself on the back burner and wait on the Lord to remove this lump.

I had lost my only child Marcus, December 24, 1998 and I was still grieving his loss. My aunt was in the hospital for a procedure to undergo treatment for lung cancer. There were complications after surgery and she suffered brain damage and was in the hospital for ten months. My mother was suffering with congestive heart failure and she was very ill at the time. I wanted so desperately to talk to my mother about the lump I found in my breast, but she was too sick. I just could not bring myself to burden her with it, so I kept it to myself for a little while longer. I finally got up the
nerve to tell my sister friend who lived in Virginia about this lump I had found. She was a nurse so I really felt she would tell me that it was probably
nothing but a cyst. She encouraged me to go to the doctor immediately. But I was so afraid. There was so much was happening. Every day I had to get up and face this lump that was not going away. I actually dreaded facing each day. I wanted the lump to miraculously disappear.

My mother died 4/1/00 and my aunt died 6/30/00. I had to be there to take care of my mother’s arrangements and help support my cousin while she was losing her mother (my aunt) with arrangements as well. With all of that going on, I still did not tell my family. Finally in August 2000, I decided to take care of myself. The thought that it could be cancer frightened me to no end. I literally had to get on my face and give this to the Lord. I prayed and said “Lord, I place this at your feet”. I must have repeated that at least 100 times. Finally He told me in a still voice, “Your body will be made whole”.

I made an appointment with my doctor in August and he scheduled an appointment for a mammogram. He said it could be a fibrocystic cyst I was feeling. After the mammogram, I was given two surgeons to choose from. I made the appointment and he looked at the mammogram and did a needle aspiration to see if cancer cells were prevalent. I did not even want to hear the “C” word. He scheduled the surgery the following week in September 26, 2000. He told me I would need treatments afterwards. I still was not accepting the report. I saw an oncologist and a radiologist and treatments were scheduled to take place in October. They were excellent in explaining how the procedure was going to work. After my first treatment of chemotherapy, in about a two week period, I started to lose my hair. I prayed to God that He would not let it devastate me watching patches of my hair literally fall out. For a while I did not want to
comb my hair.

I went through six months of Chemotherapy every three weeks. I went for radiation everyday for seven weeks, Monday through Friday, except weekends. If it wasn’t for my God, the doctors, my family and the
treatments, I wouldn’t be here today. I was in stage two and of what is was called “infiltrated duct carcinoma”. I went through a lumpectomy and I had 17 lymph nodes removed and only one was affected. I am healed and made whole. How do I know? Because my God told me so, and He is not a God that would lie. Everyday I stand on His word. I want to encourage all women to take care of your bodies. If you detect anything abnormal, go immediately to the doctor and get an examination. Do not be afraid.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. With regular check-ups, early detection, and treatments, breast cancer no longer has to be a death sentence.

 

Claudine James, February View My Story »

Claudine James

From test to Testimony
GOD is good all the time and all the time GOD is good. What a great year!!! It was 2000 and it started with a bang. I turned the BIG 30 on January 12. My one year anniversary date as an Administrative Judge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was rapidly approaching, as was my best friend’s wedding. I had GOD on my side. I had my health, a good job,
good friends – what more could a girl want?

On July 24, 2000, I went in for my yearly exam. I was three weeks late, but since I was so healthy, no big deal; or so I thought. As usual, Dr. Carole Jordan-Harris, my ob-gyn, started the exam with the clinical breast exam (CBE). While examining the right breast she found a hard mass. After she completed the exam, she told me to have the mass checked. I already knew what the result would be. The walk to the parking deck was the longest walk of my life. Dr. Jordan-Harris scheduled me for an ultrasound and mammogram on August 4, at Tower Imagining Women’s Center in Beverly Hills. Because the suspicious mass warranted tissue sampling, on August
10, I had a needle core biopsy. Even though I knew what the result would be, August 14 would not come fast enough. I tried to contact Dr. Jordan-Harris on August 14 – to no avail. Then on August 16, 2002 while driving home from work in Los Angeles rush hour traffic, my cell phone rang and it was Dr. Jordan-Harris. She called to give me my results. I will never forget those words, “This is Dr. Harris returning your call”. “I received your results and they show you not only have breast cancer, but you have infiltrating
ductal carcinoma”. There are two types of breast cancer, in situ and infiltrating carcinoma. The difference being in situ is confined or localized to the tumor site whereas infiltrating means the cancer cells have spread beyond or outside of the tumor. It is more aggressive, but understand breast cancer is no longer a death sentence.” The only words that would come out were “What next.” She responded that she would schedule me so see a surgeon.

So now the hard part was telling my parents and friends. Later that night I called my parents and with both of them on the telephone I told then my diagnosis. There was silence then my dad said let us know what the surgeon says. Then we said our good byes.

On Wednesday, August 23, 2000, I went to see a general surgeon. I was late when I saw him because he was running late from surgery. Once he entered the room he examined my breast. He explained my diagnosis and told me that based on the type of cancer the survival rate is usually about five years. Once you pass those five years, it increases. He stated that the most important thing was to remove the tumor, so he scheduled me for surgery
that Friday the 25th of August at 6:00 am.

As we, my friend Patel and I, were leaving his office, she asked what did he had said. She became very upset with me because I told her I was not having the surgery on Friday. I explained that things were moving to fast and that I needed more information. Had the cancer spread? After surgery then what? What about my job? How are my parents going to get here in less than a day notice? What, if any, were the possible complications? What about my best friend’s wedding? What am I thinking about – contact M.D. Anderson.

The next day I spent researching both my diagnosis and M.D. Anderson. After several attempts, I spoke with Jackie Preston, one of my many angels who diligently, above and beyond the call of duty to get me in as soon as possible. On September 12th, I entered M.D. Anderson Nelly B. Connelly Breast Center to begin a week of testing. While being examined by my medical oncologist, he discovered that I had an enlarged lymph node under my right arm. He immediately sent me to have a biopsy which came back positive, the cancer had spread. The following week we met to discuss treatment options. Because the size of my tumor was 3.2 cm, I was Stage II node positive. As a result, the doctor recommended chemotherapy (to reduce the size of the tumor), surgery and radiation. The chemotherapy was to be given in eight cycles every three weeks if T-cell count was not to low. I was to take two different chemo drugs.

On October 4th they placed my central venous catheter above my left breast. The procedure that normally takes fifteen minutes took about an hour. Two days later on Friday, October 6th, I was having my first cycle of chemo. When I returned to the hospital the following day to get disconnected, I felt nothing. Where was the nausea, pain and aches? The next day my dad arrived. When he asked how I was feeling, I responded, “Fine, I don’t understand all the hype about chemo.” I think I spoke a little too soon. Before day on Monday, once the drugs had fully saturated my body, the pain, aches, nausea and vomiting had arrived and was attacking my body full force. GOD where are you? The body aches were indescribable.

About four days after my first chemo treatment I began experiencing hair loss. By October 12th I had total hair loss. The next eleven months of my life was the hardest part of the TEST. It consisted of chemo every three weeks if my T-cell count permitted, and surgery (lumpectomy) followed by six weeks of radiation. It strained me financially, physically and emotionally, yet I kept the faith. It was very difficult at times, but I knew when I was not able to pray, GOD listened to my heart. Additionally, I had prayer warrior nationwide, known and unknown, who continually lifted me, my family, and friends, up in prayer.

It’s been almost two years since I first begin my TEST. Even thought the next five years of my life, which is the crucial period for a reoccurrence, I will be closely monitored, the results were victorious and many blessings were a direct outcome of my experience. I advanced to a new level spiritually, it brought my family closer, I was a shining light for all to see, especially those closest to me. It lead me to Sister’s Network, Inc. an African-American breast cancer survivor organization. Today, I have partially completed the TEST phase and advanced to TESTIMONY.

My testimony begins by thanking GOD for being so good and for his grace, even though I did not deserve it. I then tell of my diagnosis and treatment. I conclude by pleading to women of all ages, religions, economic and educational backgrounds to examine their breast, get a yearly clinical examination and a mammogram regularly. We must stop the silence, educate ourselves, and take control of our health, if we plan to eradicate the dreadful disease – breast cancer.

“My son…give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to all their flesh.” (Proverbs 4:20-22)

 

Lana Yopp, March View My Story »

Lana Yopp

My journey began in 1977.After experiencing pain in the upper left quadrant of my right breast, I went to see my primary physician. He said it was probably nothing to be concerned about, since pain isn’t an
indicator of cancer; but he did referred me to a specialist for follow up. A biopsy was taken. I was diagnosed with cancer. I was told that a mastectomy would be required. After receiving a second opinion, I
had it done. Ironically, the news of the malignancy was received in October of 1997, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

On January 3, 1998, the surgery was performed and prosthesis inserted. I went through chemotherapy for six months and the rest is history. Although the experience was traumatic, my life did not stop. Upon learning what was ahead of me, I immediately began a second job. After all, I had things to do and refused to allow this disease to impair me.

Working kept my mind busy. There was no time for sadness or depression. So, for the few months preceding my surgery, I commuted daily from New Haven to Bridgeport to work from 8:30 am. to 5:00 pm, five days per week; then from Bridgeport to Wallingford to work from 6:00 pm to midnight, six days per week.

After the surgery, I resumed my exercise classes to regain full range of motion in my right arm. I even vacationed in Cancun for a short time while receiving chemo treatments, being careful to stay out of the sun. I
was extremely blessed not to contract lymphodemia or experience hair loss.

I count my blessings every day and give thanks to the Almighty more than anyone can imagine. My everlasting love and thanks also goes to my husband, John Artis Yopp, who’s continually there – positive and persistent for me throughout this ordeal; my sons, Keven and Arthur, who
are ever so precious to me and are my life; and the handful of people with whom I shared my journey.

Not everyone can understand and have compassion for a cancer survivor’s plight. Unless you’ve walked in their shoes or have been touched by this disease, it’s difficult to comprehend what one faces daily. I pray that this
monster won’t rear its ugly head ever again and an absolute cure is on the horizon that will eliminate the need for others to travel the journey. I try to think positive and always surround myself with positive reinforcement. I do what I want when I want and, as the song says, “I’m living my Life like its Golden”, always realizing that in the end it’s in God’s hands.

Because my husband and I are always on the go and seldom around, I was recently asked: “Are you afraid that you’re going to miss something?” Well, I guess I am!

This is dedicated to Eleanor Kirkland, Linda Kirkland and Paul Dimery, Sr. who fought and awesome battle, but lost. They are my heroes, my inspiration.

 

Lillian Reason, April View My Story »

Lillian Reason

Every January for many years, like clockwork, I’d go to get my mammogram. Fortunately, even if I had a call back, all my readings were false. That was not to be in 2003. When I received notice to go for further
testing, I knew that it would also be fine, not suspicious.

There seemed to be some areas that needed to be dealt with, therefore I was scheduled for a biopsy. After the biopsy I was told that I had breast cancer.

The doctor was surprised at my reaction and patted me on my shoulder. I also was surprised at my reaction to the news. I never screamed or cried but put my faith to work and knew that God would take care of me. I told my husband and my sisters that they couldn’t worry until I did.

I went through two more procedures, initially being a lumpectomy. But because of the location on the right breast – one on top and one on the bottom – I finally had to have a mastectomy. The cancer was at
such a low stage that I did not need to undergo chemotherapy or radiation.

The doctors were very attentive. My home healthcare nurse was more than a nurse. My friends, work and church family kept prayers going that helped to sustain me. I had one friend who chauffeured me to all of my appointments. My family was so attentive that I had to run them home.

During my convalescence, I had one incident in which I was very ill. I ran a fever and felt terrible. I prayed and asked God to take anything from me that was not of Him. As quickly as I asked, he responded to my
request. I thank God for His healing power and how He calmed my spirit and kept me anxiety free.

I have been cancer free for a year and nine months. I thank God for everyone who reached out to me during this faith building experience. Life has many twist and turns, ups and downs; however, I have been
trained by very strong Christian parents that with God’s help I can survive anything.

 

Lenora Matthews, May View My Story »

Lenora Matthews

I am 36 years of age. I’m a native of the City of Bridgeport. I currently reside in the town of Norwalk with my daughter Janelle and the love of

my life Daryl. I am the youngest of four children. I am currently employed by Bridgeport Hospital as a Cardiovascular Technologist. I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in October 2002.

My Life as I saw it was just beginning. My first child was about to be christened, I was planning her first birthday party, and my professional career was advancing. I performed self-breast exams monthly. And during this particular exam I felt something “different”. I chose to wait to see my

doctor after my daughter’s christening. I was told to have a mammogram.

I didn’t fear anything. This was not my first mammogram. In the past I had benign tumors. I wanted this to be the same. But in the back of my

mind I knew something was different. My mammogram was normal. An ultrasound-guided biopsy was suggested because of my past history.

During the ultrasound the doctor didn’t say much to me. This was also different. During previous examinations we would converse. I would then get that call in a couple of days saying everything was ok. Well that call never came. I was told to see a surgeon. Then I knew that I needed to prepare for the battle for my life.

I am the third person in my family to be diagnosed with Breast Cancer. It had already taken my sister away from me and my mother was currently battling the disease. My tumor was at a very early stage. I decided, with the love and support from my family and friends, to have a mastectomy with reconstruction. The team of doctors also suggested having six rounds of chemotherapy followed by Tamoxifen. They decided to be aggressive since my family history of the disease was so strong. It was also important to me to find out if I carried the Breast Cancer gene. To my surprise I do not. This

genetic testing was performed at Yale New Haven Health.

I thank God for blessing me with friends and family to support me during this time. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for “Another day to see my daughter’s face.”

 

Kim Lucinda Smith, June View My Story »

Kim Lucinda Smith

It was a hot August morning in 2002 when I was awaken by the barking of a dog (Peanut). This was my niece Christina’s dog which I was watching while she went off to college. Peanut would bark every morning around 4:00 a.m. to be taken out for a walk. On this particular morning I refused to take him out – I just didn’t feel like moving. So, I rolled over, glancing at the TV,
which had a Breast Cancer program on. I said to myself, “I haven’t examined my breast in a while.” I started rubbing and examining my breast when suddenly I felt a lump! I jumped straight out of the bed, my heart beating 100 mph. This lump didn’t feel normal – it felt very hard and stiff. I went to my sister Keturah’s bedroom door to wake her because I was
extremely frightened. I stood there when a peace came over me and said, “just call the doctor in the morning.” And I did.

My regular gynecologist (Dr. Thomas Allan) was away on vacation, so I saw one of his partners, Dr. Cohen. He examined me and right away asked: “Are you a heavy coffee drinker?” I was. He advised me to leave the coffee alone for a while. He referred me to Dr. Kenneth Kern, who is a breast specialist. His practice is Surgical Oncology. He did an ultrasound on my
breast and saw this funny-looking thing shaped like a hook. While examining my breast he noted that I had a Mammogram eight months ago, which was negative.

While we chatted, he was doing the biopsy. He told me that he
was going to send it off to the Pathologist and hopefully would have the results to me by Friday (it was Tuesday when the biopsy was done). I reached Dr. Kern shortly after 4:30 pm on Friday afternoon. He began by saying: “Well your test results were not exactly benign. Have you ever heard of a Lumpectomy?” I said “no.” He told me it was a procedure that
would remove the lump, and that everything would be fine. He instructed me to come in Monday and bring a sister or a family member. (I brought five family members to my appointment!)

I was diagnosed (age 38) with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Grade III. After receiving the devastating news I found myself sitting in the parking lot of my son Isaiah’s Daycare. I prayed asking GOD to give me the strength and the courage to face whatever it is that has been placed in front of me. After I rendered that prayer, I sprung out of my car, greeting everyone with a smile on my face. I took my child in my arms and gave him the biggest huge ever! I looked into his little 2-year-old eyes (he’s now six) and said to myself: “This is my strength, Isaiah Solomon. GOD blessed me to have you for a reason and I’m going to fight, fight, fight for you! Mommy is not going to leave you.”

I reflected back on my sister, Debra Loretta Smith-Rolando, who we recently lost (1999) to a rare form of Sarcoma cancer, a type which was very close to ovarian cancer. I refused to let this disease come and take another one of us. I got angry for a moment because I didn’t want to put my family through this again. I have a very close-knit religious family. As soon as they all heard the news, the calls started pouring in. Prayers started Going Up. Every last one of those prayers was answered, and I thank the Almighty God for answering my prayers.

In the midst of all of this I placed a call to a man (Rabbi Jehu August Crowdy Jr., G.F.A.). He blessed my Journey and told me to “Be Concerned but… don’t worry … everything is going to be alright.” After he uttered those words to me my soul was satisfied. He was there with me from the beginning to the end. He never left my side.

I participated in a Cancer Research Clinical Trail. The reason why I elected to participate was because I had an overactive gene called HER2. This gene produces a substance called HER2 growth factor receptor which is known to make cancer grow faster. I underwent Chemo every three weeks, Herceptin weekly for one year and radiation everyday for six weeks. The drug
Herceptin was part of the Cancer Research Clinical Trail. In recent studies it has showed to have a 50/50 reoccurrence ratio. I feel privileged to have been a part of the Clinical Trail and I encourage us African-American Woman to become more aware of the Clinical Trails and what they have to offer.

I thank GOD for my son, my church, my family & friends, and most of all I thank my mother, Esther Uneeda Parker-Smith, for doing such a profound job in raising a family that prays together and stays together. I thank both my parents for grounding me and keeping me in the “Will of God.” This has helped make me who I am today, so lets Journey on with “Sisters’ Journey.”

I give thanks to the founder of Sisters’ Journey for creating an environment of awareness of our bodies our minds and spirits. GOD has a way of getting your attention even through his four legged creatures. Without “Peanut” barking, I wouldn’t have awakened to see the Breast Cancer Awareness program. Would I still be here today?

Peace Be Unto Thee.

 

Gail McNair, July View My Story »

Gail McNair

My name is Gail McNair. I was born in Derby,Connecticut and resided in New Haven most of my life. I relocated to Baltimore, Maryland in August 1997 and have been graced with a wonderful extended family there. I am 41 years young and the proud mother of two daughters.

My journey began during the summer of 2004. I discovered a lump in my left breast during a shower. I dismissed it initially thinking that it was hormonal
related.

In November, 2004 – right after Thanksgiving Holiday – I noticed the same lump and this time my inner alarm went off and I made plans immediately
to have an emergency mammogram. The mammogram followed by an ultrasound confirmed my suspicions. I was later diagnosed in January, 2005
following a biopsy. My official diagnosis was “Invasive Ductal Cancer”.

I initially had my heart set at being treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital, besides being a patient there I was also an employee there and had a lot of respect for their Cancer Center, especially there development of
a newly designed Breast Cancer Center sponsored jointly by the Avon Foundation. I decided however to move my treatment to New Haven to be closer to family and to slow down a bit. I am currently taking chemotherapy before my surgery as opposed to the traditional treatment plan of surgery, chemotherapy and, if necessary, radiation. The one positive thing about receiving the chemotherapy first is that I can actually feel the tumor shrinking after each treatment; it also gives me confidence of soon becoming totally cancer free with no reoccurrence.

I look forward to the day that I am truly cancer-free and can resume pursuing my life’s purpose. Cancer has brought me face to face with my time left here on earth. As a result I have a strong conviction/resolve no
longer to do “business as usual” but to pursue my individual purpose (the reason why God has placed me here on earth to do an assignment that no one else can do but me) with a vengeance. I encourage others on this journey to do the same – we’ve been given a second chance.

I want to take this time to thank my family and friends for all of their prayers, love and support— especially my three guardian angels; my mom and my two daughters.

 

Yvonne Dubose, August View My Story »

Yvonne Dubose

I have lived in Virginia Beach, Virginia, for the last 15 years and, for most of those years, lived a happy, healthy and stress-free life.

However, I was diagnosed with cancer in the spring of 1999 at a time when I thought that I was truly invincible. I was taking and distributing herbs, walking every day, drinking plenty of water and eating properly. However, after a “routine” company physical (which I agreed to at the persistence of a co-worker), I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

At that moment, I was not overly concerned because I personally knew several survivors who, after receiving months of treatment, were living healthy lives free of this terrible disease. It never occurred to me that I
wouldn’t be immediately cured after the proper treatments. I had a mastectomy on my right breast and then endured eight weeks of chemotherapy. Shortly thereafter a routine scan revealed that this breast
cancer had already spread to my bones; thus I began treatments for this new cancer.

Sometimes during this span I was very ill due to the many side effects. However, I continued to work and maintained most of my activities due to the support and patience of my family, my many, many special
friends, (especially Hampton University Alumni), and my co-workers. My son, Lacy, and my daughter, Yisteen, have always been my inspiration and strength, as well as my Mother, Louise Sorrell (who still lives in
Clifton Forge, Virginia – my birthplace), my siblings, and other relatives. Also, I have to mention my wonderful oncologist, Dr. Michael Steinberg, and his staff at Virginia Oncology Associates who continues to keep me “stable.”

There were times when I was so sad, and often cried when the sickness overcame me. At those times, my co-workers and friends took turns transporting me to and from the treatment center. However, in spite of
the pain, I was always thankful that the grace of God kept me sustained. I always knew that my oncologist, my radiologist and surgeons didn’t have all the answers, that there is another doctor who is the greatest physician of all!

Now it is the summer of 2005, six years since I was first diagnosed, and I am faced with another obstacle – brain cancer. I currently have three cancerous spots on my brain. One has almost disappeared, the second one is stable. It is the third one which the doctors are really concerned about. However, I know that with a positive attitude, an unyielding belief in the powers of God and with the faith of just a “grain of mustard seed” I will triumph. So by the time this calendar is distributed, I plan to be still rejoicing, working, praising the Lord for His blessings, and living life to the fullest.

 

Brenda Tyson, September View My Story »

Brenda Tyson

My Name is Brenda Tyson. I’m one of Jehovah’s Witness since 1989. I was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut, and moved to Hamden about
30 years ago. I am a former SNET employee. I started at SNET on April 22, 1968 during my senior year at Wilbur Cross High School. I took the early retirement from SNET in 1995.

Throughout my years at SNET, four of my coworkers were diagnosed with breast cancer as well as other forms of cancer and one died. My mother Marion Hammie also developed breast cancer and passed away in July of 1995. This was always a big concern of mine so I made sure I kept up with my yearly check-ups and doctor appointments.

In October of 2004 when I went in for my yearly check-up, I noticed the technician taking a little longer than usual with my X-Rays. When she asked
me to take another, I became a little worried but forgot about it later on that day. The following week I received a call to come in and take some
additional X-Rays and an Ultrasound.

My Doctor scheduled me for a biopsy in November 2004, and it came back positive. I had breast cancer! All sorts of things went through my mind. Did I get it from my place of employment? Did I inherit it from my Mother? Was it from all the wrong foods Iate?

So in December 2004 I had surgery to remove the cancer. My Doctor removed a 5-centimeter cancerous cell and suggested that I take chemo and
radiation. I decided against it at this time and opted for a healthy diet regimen and exercise. As of June 2005 I have lost 22 lbs and I’m progressively working on losing more.

I give thanks for the help of my husband Joe, my 9-year-old granddaughter Onesha, my son Joseph, my blood sisters and brothers as well as my spiritual
sisters and brothers in the Hamden Newhallville Congregation. They have encouraged me beyond words. I thank Jehovah God with all of my heart for
giving me the strength to endure in this difficult time.

 

Deborah Hogan, October View My Story »

Deborah Hogan

When I was diagnosed, May 9, 1995, 11:08 a.m., I thought my entire world had collapsed. How could this be? I had no previous history. I was the
healthiest person I knew: low fat diet, exercise, everything in moderation. I thought I was about to orphan my children, to leave my husband and never
see my family again. It never occurred to me before that moment that I would not be here to attend a graduation or marriage ceremony.

The most important thing that happened to me when I was diagnosed was the realization that I could not afford to take anything for granted. I had
to really appreciating my life. I had to recognize the fact that a single cell can and will change your life drastically. That life can be over in a flash. But
hearing the words “…you have cancer,” made me understand how much I had to cherish and love my life and everything about it. I have always been
an optimist; my friends sometime refer to me as sunshine in their lives. I had to realize how important friendships are.

Early during my recovery, my husband told me he was so lucky to have the opportunity that every man dreams about: the opportunity to show the
woman he promised to love and cherish that he IS her “Knight in shining Armour.” He felt I had been his hero; he could now be mine. My son drew
pictures of Pac Man like predators that gobbled up cancer cells. That visualization made recovery real for him. At bedtime my daughter re-read her favorite stories with new surprise endings that included all of us happy together.
The best thing about my survival is that we all survived: my kids my husband, our parents, our families and even our pets. We all became stronger. There was something new propping us up, holding
us together…the realization that every day is precious and every moment should be appreciated. I have learned never squander an opportunity to
tell those I care for that I love them and how special they are to me.

 

Mary Barrett, November View My Story »

Mary Barrett

My name is Mary Barrett and I am a cancer survivor.

The year 2003 was a mixed blessing. First, my daughter died of cancer in February of the year 2003, and I found out that I had breast cancer when I went for my yearly checkup in July of 2003.

Of course I was stunned. However, the cancer was very small, so I had the operation right away. God is good all the time. I count it a blessing
that I was able to be with my daughter during her time of need and I thank God that I’m alive and I’m doing the best I can every day to take
care of my health.

 

Gwendolyn Bell, December View My Story »

Gwendolyn Bell

My mother found out she had breast cancer at age 39 and died from it just past her 48th birthday.

I discovered a lump in my right breast in November 1995, at age 49, and had a mammogram. The result was negative. I continued to feel a lump in the right breast and my primary doctor and I agreed that with my family history that I should see a surgeon. The needle biopsy was inconclusive.

The second biopsy was suspicious. My surgeon, Melissa Perkal, suggested that the tumor should be removed. I agreed. It turned out to be two very large tumors, totalling almost 6.5 centimeters in size. The bad news was that the cancer had spread into my lymph nodes; the good news was that only two of fourteen nodes were cancerous.

My son Rick was with me when I found out. I will never forget his maturity. My husband Richard was there for me throughout the surgery, the reconstruction and the aggressive chemotherapy and radiation that followed for the next eight months.

I completed twelve sessions of chemotherapy over a six-month period and had reconstructive surgery in December 1996.This was followed by 32 treatments of radiation.

My Oncologist, Dr. Andrea Silber, advised that often my type of cancer would return within the next year.

In early 2002 I had an opportunity to retire after 17 years from the City of New Haven and take another position out of state.

In April 2002 the yearly mammogram detected a tiny tumor. This one was small and was not invasive. I chose to have my left breast removed in May 2002 and I did not require treatment.

With the love of family and friends, I left to take a job in Philadelphia in late July 2002. I cherish everyday I have been given and I am grateful to GOD to be alive and to be able to enjoy my grandchildren, who live in
Philadelphia.

 

Bettye L. Green, View My Story »

Bettye L. Green

I was taking a shower and found a lump in the upper part of my breast, close to the center (sternum). I wasn’t worried because cancer lumps are often found in the upper left quadrant of the breast. I knew this from
being a nurse. But I went to the doctor anyway. The first reading of my mammogram was negative. However, my family doctor said, “I want another doctor to see you.”

So, during my lunch break I went to see a friend who is a surgeon and had an exam performed. He immediately said it was cancer and that the cancer had spread to my lymph node. My life changed forever with that diagnosis. I went from being a cardiac specialty nurse to national breast cancer
advocate. I wanted women to know they are not alone with this disease and I wanted to find a cure.

I am presently fighting to save African American women with breast cancer
through the works of People of Color Supporting Clinical Trials and Research.

 

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