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2007 Calendar

2007 Calendar

Welcome. It’s another beautiful year! The response to the calendar for Sisters Journey was overwhelming. Never before have so many
among us revealed our inner feelings about dealing with breast cancer. Different faces, both familiar and not so well known, heralded new months for another year of life and the triumphs of good health care and the love of family and friends.

The word about the value of monthly self-breast examinations and regular medical attention spread to all who gaze upon the portraits and essays. You see, that is what this calendar is all about – women of color are needlessly suffering the physical and emotional anguish that breast cancer brings to them and their families. For most, early detection is the key to successful treatment. “Be an advocate of your own body” is what our founder, Linda White-Epps always said. Monthly breast examinations, checkups and mammograms are the tools to use. We must take advantage of those tools. We must not fear the consequences. We can win! The stories of those  who have addressed this disease prove the value of facing the situations.

As we embark on yet another year and the seventh adventure into publishing a  2007 calendar, I look back with happy feelings of success. On the dawn of another year of life, we are all blessed. Whether we battle with crucial decisions about our health or whether we are enjoying
another time of freedom from cancer, we are together supporting each other.

I want to thank each and every one of you who helped, once again, with this project. Materially, the calendar has brought monetary contributions to the Sisters Journey Support Group, providing assistance to those in need of breast prosheses, wigs, lymphodma.

We stand ready to spread the word in the African-American community that with early diagnosis and treatment, brest cancer does not have to be a death sentence. We are available to speak to any church or organization that is interested in hearing a testament for survivors. We can be contacted at 203-228-3556.

Making a calendar has highlighted the strengths of your sisters – women who have faced and defeated breast cancer. We share your triumphs each and every year. Again, thank you for your continued support throughout the year. We would not have been able to without you.

Phyllis W. White
President

Survivor Stories

Joan Santos Kelley, January View My Story »

Joan Santos Kelley

They overcame…by the Blood of the Lamb and by the word of the
testimony.
(Rev.12:12)

My name is Joan Santos Kelley. I am a native of New Haven, Connecticut and I am a Breast Cancer“Overcomer.” I am the youngest of 10 children to Daniel and Teresa Santos. I went to UCONN where I met my
husband, Herb, to whom I was married for 30 years.

My journey started in February 2001. I went for my yearly mammogram. I have been doing so since 1993 when my sister Frances Jackson made her transition to heaven and met up with our mother and father after losing her battle to breast cancer. My oldest sister Rose Santos (who was in the 2004 calendar) was also diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999. My radiologist saw a shadow and asked me to return for a second examination. However, during the following week, I contracted pneumonia and forgot to schedule an appointment.

In September 2001 I began to feel pain in the left breast. I immediately called my radiologist and was urged to come in ASAP. I was referred to a surgeon for a biopsy when the x-ray revealed possible calcifications. The biopsy showed Ductile Carcinoma in Situ. The surgeon recommended that I undergo a lumpectomy and radiation therapy. He explained that if there were not clear margins, he would have to operate again to make sure all the cancer was gone.

I decided to get a second opinion and that surgeon suggested a mastectomy
with a sentinel node biopsy which would show if there was any lymph node
involvement. I decided to go with the mastectomy. Thank God there was no cancer in the lymph node involvement and the amount of cancer was less than .5cm or stage 0. Therefore, I did no have to undergo chemo or radiation. I thank God for my doctors and all the medical personnel that ministered to me during my journey. I thank Him for my late husband Herb, who went to every doctor’s appointment and procedure with me and also my daughter Arianna and son Herbie for their love and support during these difficult times.

I am also grateful to my brothers and sisters who loved me through my journey and all through my life, especially my sister Betty Lewis who came to Charlotte to be my “nurse maid”(she’s my second mother). Sisters, I believe it is really important to get your mammograms, do your self breast exam monthly and listen to your body.

We are not just survivors we are “OVERCOMERS.”

 

Donna Walker, February View My Story »

Donna Walker

I was born in Montgomery, Alabama, to Wiley and Josephine Boyd, but have lived in New Haven since I was nine months old. I feel like New Haven is really my home. I have one brother and five sisters, having one that succumbed to breast cancer this year. I have been blessed with three daughters: Evelyn, Sharlise and Alicia, and four grandchildren.

I began my journey on October 24, 2004 when I discovered fluid in both of my breasts. After composing myself, I immediately called my doctor
to schedule an appointment. Upon securing one, I went to St. Raphael Hospital for an examination. The doctor there told me I needed a mammogram, so I was given one for the next day.

After coming in and having the mammogram, they informed me that I had cancer in the right breast. After receiving this news, I felt like time had stopped and I was waiting for someone to wake me. It felt like I
heard the diagnosis, yet didn’t. The doctor told me I would need surgery to remove my right breast.

After having four surgical procedures, a mastectomy was performed on, my right breast. I finally started chemotherapy at the Father McGivney Cancer Center, which is a part of St. Raphael. Because of numerous
complications, I didn’t do well with the chemotherapy treatments so it was stopped.

The doctor scheduled me for radiation therapy which I endured for the next six weeks. Well, time really flies when you’re having fun! Now, it’s about one year later (October 2006 to be exact). I have finally completed my radiation therapy. I know there times when we say,
“Lord, why me”! Or, “how this could happen to me, what did I do to deserve this?” What’s your answer?

Lord, thank you for my mother Josephine, my aunts Pearl and Thelma Boyd, my fill-in transportation partner Celestine, and my daughter Evelyn who was always there to keep me focused. Well one year later I’m here to let you know that there is a Tomorrow
and for that reason alone let me thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

Reverend Barbara Beauford, March View My Story »

Reverend Barbara Beauford

I am a 22-year breast cancer survivor only by the grace of God.

One day, many years ago, I discovered a small pea-like object in my left breast. I didn’t think much of it, but put myself on alert. A couple of weeks went by so I decided to check again. I discovered that the pea-like object had now become more like the size of a lemon. I then began to have swelling in my armpits and, within six months, the lump had grown to the size of a small grapefruit. I was referred to Dr. Nicholas Passarelli and was told I had third stage lymphoma. He suggested a Mastectomy. Eight days later surgery was performed, after which I had chemotherapy and radiation during the next two-year period. I was very grateful for my doctors, Dr. Levy and Dr. Francis Cardinale during this phase.

I am not only a survivor but also a warrior for those who are afflicted with cancer. I am a mother of a facial cancer survivor – my daughter, Minister
Cherie Green. Being a woman of many talents and gifts to my credit, I believe that my spiritual and maternal insights have served many, and have encouraged many, by helping to build their faith. I have ministered to my daughter, and to others afflicted by this disease through the gift of love and the power of prayer.

Although the journey to recovery is long, there is always a ray of hope, which has helped transform my life, and through my life into the many lives
of those that know and love me. I have been married to Cain Beauford, my husband of 25 years, and have to cherish four children, six grandchildren, three great grandchildren and two daughter’s in-law. For over 40 years I have served as an ordained Reverend.

To God be the Glory!

 

Marie Ellison, April View My Story »

Marie Ellison

My name is Marie Ellison; I’m a native of Pendleton, South Carolina. I moved to New Haven, Connecticut in 1954. I am a firm believer in having my yearly mammogram.

However, in 2003 I missed my annual appointment. In January 2204, my husband suffered a massive stroke Life’s challenges kept me so busy that it had slipped my mind that I didn’t have my annual mammogram. In October 2004, I finally got around to scheduling my appointment.

When the technician took the mammogram a second time, I began to worry. The technician said that they saw a “mass” on the film, and they would contact my physician. I informed them that I had a shunt insertion from brain surgery in 2002 and the shunt ran through my breast. The results were sent to my primary physician. A biopsy was scheduled for November 17 and the results would be available on November 23 – one day before Thanksgiving. My daughter told them
not to call us, that we would call them after the holiday.

It was then that I received the news that I had stage one carcinoma in my right breast, I was devastated! I did not want to talk to anyone about it, didn’t want my family to tell anyone – not even my closest friends.

My daughter, Yvonne Jones, was my lifesaver. She was by my side supporting me throughout the entire process. I had a partial mastectomy in December 2004. I decided to forego chemotherapy because my husband needed 24-hour care and there was no one to take care of him. I started 33 weeks of radiation treatment and a pill therapy. Once my radiation treatment was over, I thought life would begin to look up for me. On August 4, 2005, my husband succumbed to a heart attack.

With all I have been through, I could have given up on life, but I didn’t. My 2005 mammogram showed no recurrence of the cancer, and I am scheduled for my next appointment in October.

On May 31, I celebrated my 70th birthday, and I thank God, my  family especially my daughter-for getting me through this season of my Life.

 

Lois Marie Brazile, May View My Story »

Lois Marie Brazile

My name is Lois Marie Brazile. I am 59 years old a native New Yorker. I discovered a lump in my right breast during the later part of 2005. The lump had been throbbing and had become very painful. My primary care physician scheduled an appointment with a surgeon, who recommended that I undergo a mammogram and sonogram.

Both procedures were completed and read. A biopsy was scheduled the same day. Within a few days, I received the call that would change my life forever: “Ms. Brazile, I’m sorry to inform you that your biopsy revealed that you have Cancer.”

I was numb; I could not move my legs. I cried uncontrollably and left work. My co-workers were crying and in shock. I have worked as a nurse for 30 years caring for people. Just the thought of being ill
frightened me. I thought about my 79 year old mother who has been a breast cancer survivor since 2002. I thought about my children, Catrice, Nevery and Bryan, all of whom have stood by me, and been supportive
and loving.

I had a tumor that was 4.8 centimeters, with five positive nodes. I had a mastectomy with breast reconstruction at the same time. I had an aggressive form of breast cancer. The battle continues, I have decided in addition to my 16 weeks of chemotherapy to participate in a clinical trial program, but I will also need radiation.

I am grateful and thankful for family and friends. I am grateful for my church family, the prayer warriors from near and far, and for Reverend Davenport who supported my family and me through this difficult time. I can’t give enough thanks to the doctors and nurses that were always there for me during a very difficult time.

I am drawing on all of my inner strength and faith, I have asked God to give me strength to endure during one of the most difficult struggles of my life. I asked God to lift up my children, my mom, my dad, brothers
and friends. Please, if you have a family member, friend or loved one diagnosed with cancer, keep them close, call on them, and send cards.

For those who have not been diagnosed, be steadfast, keep your appointments, don’t take “no” for an answer. It’s not an option; it is our health, your Life.

 

Paulette Thompson Clinton, June View My Story »

Paulette Thompson Clinton

In September 2000, I was 33 years old and happily living and working as an educator in Benin, West Africa, truly fulfilling my life’s calling. One morning
while getting dressed, I felt a lump in my right breast. I remember calling my mother back in the U.S. and telling her. She told me she wasn’t worried, but of course we decided that it would be checked out during my leave, scheduled for October.

Later that month, I kissed my adopted kids goodbye and told my colleagues and friends I would see them in a month. I headed home to New York
for what was supposed to be a month-long vacation. Shortly after I arrived in Buffalo, I had my first mammogram. Afterwards, the radiologist called my father (who had accompanied me) into his office and told us that he didn’t have good news. The essence of  his message was that my right breast was full of cancer.

I was overwhelmed as I contemplated the implications of this news. My life on the other side of the ocean was literally waiting for me to return, but I wouldn’t be able to do so. On November 27 – the day I was scheduled to return to Benin – my parents and I received theformal diagnosis from my gifted and compassionate surgical oncologist, Dr. Thelma Hurd: stage 2B carcinoma. This devastating diagnosis marked the beginning of a
life-changing physical, emotional and spiritual odyssey for our entire family. We were shocked because there was no significant history of breast cancer in our family, and I was so young.

In December, I had a mastectomy followed by immediate breast
reconstruction using tissue from my abdomen – a 12-hour-long operation. For the next 10 months, I underwent very aggressive treatment. This is because cancer in younger women tends to be more aggressive. In addition, four of my 13 lymph nodes were found to be cancerous. After the six- week recovery from the surgery, I had chemotherapy – eight sessions over a six-month period. I participated in a clinical trial for this portion of my treatment, which I strongly urge others to do. Six weeks of radiation followed chemotherapy, and I began the five year regimen of Tamoxifen, an estrogen-blocker, since my cancer was estrogen-receptive.
Throughout this period, I was literally carried on wings of prayer by a host of friends, family, church members and colleagues and, of course, my beloved Benin. When I couldn’t pray, the prayers of those who loved me got me through; my angel was my mother Sybrnee Thompson. Had it not been for her and the Lord, where would I be today? In June of 2002 I
finally returned to Benin to pack up the fragmented pieces of the life I had left behind a full19 months ago.

Lastly, in November of 2004, I met my life partner, Marc. We were married by my father in August 2005. Our marriage has truly been the greatest blessing in my life since my diagnosis. In May I ended my tamoxifen regimen three months early in order to prepare for the next chapter in our lives – pregnancy and parenthood. There is indeed abundant life after breast cancer. To God be the Glory

 

Pat Williams, July View My Story »

Pat Williams

“I can do all things in Christ, who strengthens me.”

Little did I know that this scripture would be my saving grace!

In June 2005, I ran my hand across my breast and discovered a lump. At that moment, I knew my life would never be the same no matter what. I was in awe of my calmness, but I remembered that my mom always said,
“God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power.” In a matter of seconds, I asked God to help me to accept His plans for me and to stay by my side no matter what was ahead.

I had lost my mother in-law to cancer so I knew that this could be a life-changing experience. The next few weeks were a whirlwind. A mammogram diagnosis, doctor’s visits and preparations for my family and friends for the journey that was about to begin.

I thank God for the experience because I have been allowed to see God’s work and love through others. I’ve met some wonderful people and have been cared for by wonderful doctors and nurses. A special thanks to my husband Leroy and my children, Lance and Lauren. Thank you for the love and support you showed during a time that was difficult for us all.
To my family, church family and friends, I say thank you for helping me to reaffirm my belief that God may not give you all you want, but He always gives you what you need. I needed all of you.

To the undiagnosed, it is said that 200,000 women and men will be diagnosed this year. My best advice, if asked, is to trust God, stay positive and surround yourself with loving and caring people.

Please remember that early detection is the Key!

 

Lela Hicks, August View My Story »

Lela Hicks

My name is Lela Hicks. In 1991 I moved from Detroit, Michigan to Las Vegas, Nevada – my present home after retiring from the Internal Revenue Service.

I love to travel and that was my goal. However, God sometimes has other plans for us. I had been living in Las Vegas one year when one evening, while taking a shower, I felt a lump in my right breast. I had neglected to get my yearly mammogram and reluctantly waited two weeks before seeing my doctor, hoping my discovery would go away.

My doctor recommended a surgeon who performed a needle biopsy. When the results of the biopsy were reviewed, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. At that moment I felt my life was over and I started to cry. She (the doctor) told me my options and left the room leaving me to make a decision that would change my life forever. I was single, 65 years old and wanted to live. I chose a mastectomy followed by 12 treatments of chemotherapy. I had surgery on August 16, 1992 – four days before my birthday. I spent three days in the hospital and, after being discharged, I returned to my daily routine – up and about tending to my daily chores. I started chemotherapy in October, and in November I got a job at United Blood Service. I finished my treatment in  February 1993. The oncologist told me that I needed no more medication. I worked for seven years and then retired again. No longer interested in traveling, I took up the hobby of floral arranging. I have always had a strong belief in God, so each morning I read
the Bible and meditate.

I thank God for 14 years of being cancer free and my daily prayer is to never  let cancer invade my body again. I do not ask God for things, I ask for good health and longevity. I am 78 years old, and I have a fun job. I tell others about having faith.

I am also grateful for a niece Dolly and her daughter and son, who were  always there for me while I was going through my illness. I have no children, but lots of good family and friends and, above all, God.

 

Dana Green, September View My Story »

Dana Green

May 2004 I was diagnosed with breast cancer after discovering a lump in one of my breast weeks earlier during my monthly self exams. At the time, I had yet to be scheduled for my first mammogram. I shared the news
with my family and a few close friends and then turned to my spiritual leaders/family for guidance and support. With prayers and support received from my natural and spiritual families, and my strong spiritual background, I knew I would be all right and would recover fully.

I received chemotherapy treatments both before and after surgery along with several weeks of radiation thereafter. After a long year of tests, blood draws, treatments and doctor visits, I received a good report – in May 2005, after my second mammogram, no signs of cancerous cells were found in my entire body (Praise God!)

I can attest, without the tremendous support from my natural/ spiritual family, friends, co-workers and an excellent team of health professionals, I wouldn’t have made it through the process of doctor visits, treatment, surgery, therapy and healing.

My mission is to give back by being a supportive friend and love one to those that have yet to travel the road that I traveled. I met people along the way who have encouraged, supported and unselfishly shared their own experiences.Therefore, I want to use my experience with breast cancer to be a positivesource of information for others.

I would like to share one of my favorite quotes: “Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday!

 

June Redmond Smith, October View My Story »

June Redmond Smith

My name is June Redmond-Smith. Shortly after celebrating my 44th birthday, a routine mammogram in October 2004 proved to be quite disturbing. There was an irregularity in the report and the examining physician asked me to go for further testing. Further testing was arranged and those tests confirmed cancer cells in my left breast.

On February 2, 2005 my husband and I checked into the medical facility in preparation for surgery to my left breast. The medical reports indicated a
lump. A lumpectomy was performed and, following the surgery, I would undergo six weeks of radiation treatment.

Monday through Friday for six weeks I would report to the Yale Cancer Treatment Center for daily treatments. I thank God for the medical  professionals and the team that performed the surgery, and also for the support following the surgery. I also thank God for my dear friend, D. Christine Johnson, who heard the words of my surgeon, Dr. Theresa Ponn, when my husband and I couldn’t hear nor comprehend what was being told to us.

I am one of 12 children, in addition to my parents and siblings. God has blessed me with a loving husband Jack Smith, four sons, Adrian, Alex, Kevin and Devin, and in-laws Willie and Nona Smith as well as a host of loving people to share this journey called “Life”. I am thankful for each of you for your unconditional love.

When asked ”How did you do it?” I can only reply, “I didn’t do it, God did it”. He is my refuge, He is my strength, He is everything, and in Him will I trust!

 

Novella Lyons, November View My Story »

Novella Lyons

Novella Lyons knows first-hand the effect that breast cancer has on women and their families. Her mother’s diagnosis and subsequent death in 1975 was Novella’s first experience with breast cancer, and that left a vivid impact upon her life.

When Novella was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 1993, she became determined to arm herself with all available knowledge and, with God’s help, to fight back with all her strength. As Novella
progressed in her personal campaign against breast cancer, other women were being inspired and encouraged by her. Novella became committed to empowering other women through education and
spiritual and emotional support.

Novella’s outreach efforts have grown beyond the boundaries of her neighborhood and now reach women throughout the United States. Her conviction and courage come from her strong religious beliefs.
Novella has chosen not just to survive, but to embrace life to the fullest!

Women of Faith and Hope was founded by Novella in 1994, and she serves as its executive director.

 

Gina Evans, December View My Story »

Gina Evans

“God is the joy and the strength of my Life”

This gospel song has always had special meaning for me. On September 20, 2002, while taking a shower and doing my monthly self breast examination, I discovered a large lump in my right breast. I tried to say to myself that I imagining it. But, I knew in my heart of hearts that this “lump” was real and needed some attention.

My primary physician, Dr. Lee Jung, scheduled an appointment with Dr. Ellen Polokoff, breast cancer surgeon who performed a biopsy that revealed the evidence of a malignancy, just two days before the Thanksgiving holiday. Dr. Polokoff told me to go home and enjoy the holiday. She advised me that she would schedule me for a lumpectomy the first week in December, and not to worry and promised that she would take good care of me.

Telling my children and my family was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Having to tell them their “rock” was breaking up was frightening to them and to me. Up to this point I was one of the strong ones in the family, always making things right. Now, I felt powerless. So, returning to my song He moves all pain, misery and strife, I prayed to God for peace and joy for the journey.  God answers prayer.

I had my surgery December 4, 2004 and, in two weeks, returned to my job as a nurse for the APT Foundation.

In January 2003, I met my oncologist Dr. Wahij Zaheer (a blessing), who suggested that I follow-up my surgery with chemotherapy and radiation treatment. After 12 weeks of chemo, I then embarked on to radiation therapy with Dr. Robert Sinha. He was wonderful and competent.

I won’t say that I wasn’t sick and tired much of the time throughout my treatment. But I will say this: I got through my ordeal because God gave me what I asked for – Joy and peace. He gave me wonderful children, Bruce and Terri who fawned over me and took care of me. He gave me the help of my late significant other Elvin, and family, friends and co-workers too numerous to name, to love, support and nurture me.

It is now three years later and I am cancer free. God promised to keep me, never to leave me. And he hasn’t!

 

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