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Survivor Stories

Diane E. Henderson, January View My Story »

Diane E. Henderson

I was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut and in 2006 decided to relocate to North Carolina for a fresh new start. My focus was so set on moving that I forgot to schedule my annual mammogram and was unable to get an appointment before leaving. I must admit that I didn’t practice self examinations on a regular basis for two reasons. First, I wasn’t certain I was doing it correctly and second, I thought the breast exams my doctor gave me along
with my yearly mammogram were sufficient screenings. Besides, there was no family history of breast cancer, so I
thought it was highly unlikely for me to get it.  

In November 2006, just three months after my move, I discovered a lump when my arm happened to brush up against my breast.  After a mammogram and ultrasound, I had a biopsy performed the week before Christmas and was told that it didn’t look good. The biopsy results wouldn’t be back until after the holidays but they said I should prepare myself for the worst.  A week later I packed up my car and drove back up north worried how I was going to break the news to my three children and other family members.

After getting over the initial shock, everyone was extremely supportive and reassuring which helped me to keep
it together and stay strong. My daughter, who was living in New Jersey at the time, insisted on taking care of me so I moved in with her.  

On January 3, 2007, just two days after my birthday, I made the call to the doctor in North Carolina who confirmed that my tumor was malignant – Invasive Ductal Carcinoma-Stage III. I remember feeling like the life had just been sucked out of me as those three words kept ringing in my ears, “You have cancer.” Naturally, I thought that
cancer was a death sentence.

My daughter and I spent countless hours and days  at the American Cancer Society (ACS) website researching treatment options, surgeons and oncologists. We were very impressed and thankful for the wealth of clinical information, resources and support we found there.  

I had a radical mastectomy along with the removal of all the axillary lymph nodes on my right side. Of the twenty-six nodes removed, six of them were cancerous. That June I began aggressive chemotherapy followed by radiation, then a year of Herceptin treatments to help reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. I cannot speak highly enough of the team of doctors, nurses and staff members at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey who provided me with excellent care and great compassion.

One week into chemo my hair was coming out in globs so I shaved off the rest. What a shock that was but with the help of ACS’s Look Good Feel Better Program, I was able to learn beauty techniques that helped to boost my appearance and cope with my self-image. I was also having difficulty eating and drinking fluids and was nauseous and
weak most of the time. ACS linked me with a breast cancer survivor whose tumor and treatment was similar to mine. She was extremely helpful offering suggestions how to manage side effects and always encouraged me to focus on a positive outcome. I was also very blessed to have family and friends who kept me in their prayers and
embraced me with their awesome love, support and encouragement.

My life had changed drastically and the treatments caused me a lot of physical and emotional anguish.  It was truly the most challenging and difficult experience in my life. There were times I felt so sick that even my faith became a challenge but with the little strength I did have I continued to stay in the Word and praised God anyway; and
every day He would reveal His love which comforted me and gave me the strength to endure and hope for another day of life. I completed all my treatments in July 2008 and to God be the glory, I remain cancer free.

I strongly urge all women to perform monthly self examinations and remember to have their annual mammogram. Early detection is key.  To those newly diagnosed and/or going through treatment, I encourage you to seek out organizations such as Sisters’ Journey and ACS for emotional support and resources to help you fight to survive.

Having someone who’s gone through and who can relate to the challenges you face with this disease is priceless.
Life is one journey after another and with each there are twists and turns and many challenges and battles to fight. As I strive to be more divinely led, I’m also learning how to make peace with the moment and whatever the  circumstance.  God is showing me new things and teaching me how to use the tools He has given me; so as I evolve into each new journey, equipped with courage, faith, hope and a readiness to fight, I don’t worry about tomorrow because I know that God is already

Ernestine Jackson, February View My Story »

Ernestine Jackson

My name is Ernestine (Tina) Jackson. I was born on February 23, 1950 to Charlie and Lena Green of Pitt County, North Carolina.  I spent most of my early years in North Carolina and later moved to Boston, Massachusetts
with my cousin Patricia.

It was while living in Boston that I visited another cousin in New Haven, Connecticut.  There I met my future husband. I was at the Elks Club in New Haven when I first met Louis Jackson, a bass player in the band,
Julius & the Soul Corruptors.  Later that year (1970) we were married and settled in West Haven, Connecticut where
we raised four daughters, Nancy Marie Green, Cora Shantel Jackson, Janice Jackson, and Raquel M. Jackson Moore. 

I spent most of the early years of my marriage as a stay at home mother, and the key care giver to my daughter, Cora who was born with Spina Bifida, and my three other daughters. I also did the accounting and payroll for my husband’s Janitorial Company, Jackson Janitorial Service. After the children were in their teens I began
working at Bradlees in Orange, Connecticut.   Bradlees became a family trend as all four of my daughters worked there during their teen years before going on to other jobs or college.

In 1998, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I had a Mastectomy in September of that year and began chemotherapy after my surgery. What made the situation so difficult was that I had to continue caring for my
disabled daughter as well as deal with all of the complications and emotions of having Breast Cancer at the same time. No matter how difficult things became I never gave up or stopped taking care of my family.

I am now a 14 year Breast Cancer Survivor. I have four adorable grandchildren. I like nothing better than visiting with them and sharing with them my potato salad, collard greens, ribs, and baked macaroni and cheese.
Yes, I am a survivor in every sense of the word.

Alberta Stephens, March View My Story »

Alberta Stephens

I was born on June 6, 1934, in Ansonia, Connecticut, the sixth child of ten to O’Donnell and                                                  Isabel Brockington Hilton.

I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Quinnipiac University.  I retired from Yale University, as the Assistant Director of Student Financial Services in 1997.

I am a member of Theta Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., The National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc., and the Red Hat Society.

In July 2009 I had an appointment with my primary doctor, Dr. William Rosner, for my annual physical. During the examination he detected a lump in my right breast and recommended that I have an ultra sound.  After the ultrasound the lump was suspicious enough that a biopsy was scheduled.  The results showed that not only was the lump malignant but a lymph node was also malignant.

Dr. Karen Johnson was my surgeon. After discussing the various procedures with her, I opted to have a bilateral
mastectomy.  It is good that I did as cancer was also in my left breast.  After the surgery, Dr. Johnson referred me to
an Oncologist, Dr. Samuel Bobrow.  Because one lymph node was cancerous, I had to have chemotherapy. During this ordeal I lost my hair and some weight.  However, since then my hair has grown back and my weight has stabilized.

Breast cancer is prevalent in my family; I lost three sisters to breast cancer, Mae Hilton-Bryant, Juanita Hilton-Ewing, and Beverly Hilton-Kimbro.  I am not only a breast cancer survivor but a lung cancer survivor as well.

Many thanks to my husband Lewis and my sister, Vivian Clyburn, who traveled from Washington D.C. to care for me as well as my nephews and nieces.

Tanya Farriel, April View My Story »

Tanya Farriel

My name is Tanya Farriel. I was born and raised in Norwalk, Connecticut. In 2008, at the age of 37, I discovered a dime size “thing” in my breast while I was taking a  shower one morning. Within a period of one month this “thing” turned into the size of a quarter. I spoke with my mother who told me to see a doctor. This is when I was told
about my mother’s identical twin sister who did not survive her ordeal with breast cancer.

I was checked by a doctor. They did a biopsy and within two weeks, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My mother
encouraged me to go to Yale New Haven Hospital where I had a second biopsy that confirmed the diagnosis of breast cancer.  Again, with my mother’s encouragement, I was admitted to Yale New Haven Hospital (YNHH) for surgery that would remove half of my breast. If it had not been for YNHH and the surgical doctors there, I do not
know how I would have made it to today. I believe I would have had a complete breakdown. I was so scared and had no other support during the eight month ordeal.  

I ended up having a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The side effects of the treatments coupled with having to have a mastectomy were too much for me to handle psychologically. I had four children at the time. I was commuting between Norwalk and New Haven for my treatments and that became very difficult. Thus, added to my health issues was a move to New Haven. My children rebelled against the relocation. They were leaving their home and school.  They were losing their extended family and friends back in Norwalk. They did not understand what I was experiencing. 

Sometime later during my pathway to recovery, the relocation to New Haven brought me into contact with many “good” people. Mother Mays, Robin and Laura would feed and take care of my children giving me rest time. They helped me with making my clinic appointments.

To show my gratification for all the assistance I received from these wonderful people, I volunteer and donate my time in the name of breast cancer. By the grace of God, I am here today.  I am here for my children, my grandchildren and the community of women who have breast
cancer with all my heart and being.

Maureen Harry, May View My Story »

Maureen Harry

One evening, I happened to perform a self examination and noticed a hard lump on my right breast. This was something I had never noticed before. I was a little inquisitive but not alarmed. It was my husband who suggested I see the doctor. I was apprehensive but didn’t want to overreact.  However, the consistent prompting by my
husband turned into a demand that I change my scheduled appointment in two weeks to an earlier date was GOD sent!

The appointment turned into an immediate referral for a biopsy. The surgeon knew immediately that the lump was cancerous, which the lab later confirmed.  I felt I needed a second opinion to see what my options were.  The second opinion was from an oncologist who recommended a lumpectomy with follow-up treatment of either radiation or
chemotherapy. The surgeon who had performed the biopsy suggested I have either a lumpectomy or partial mastectomy with no mention of radiation or chemotherapy.  My decision was based on the location of the cancerous lump and the pathology report that the tissue was a grade III “cribriform” invasive carcinoma. I chose a partial mastectomy plus chemotherapy instead of a lumpectomy and radiation.  The recovery was matter-of-fact. I had six
months of chemotherapy. I was a stay at home mom caring for two young children.  They were my priority and my strength.  

My recovery was on auto pilot and I had no time think about my condition. My parents died within a four year period from the date of being diagnosed with breast cancer. My faith kept me afloat. I knew I needed to be strong for the children.  My family was my anchor. My support was and still is my spiritual faith.

GOD’S grace has given me the ability to be a 19-year survivor as of August 2012.

Zenaida Collazo, June View My Story »

Zenaida Collazo

Hi my name is Zenaida Collazo. I am 41 years old and I am a breast cancer survivor.  

At the age of 40 I felt a lump in my left breast that was not there the monthbefore. I thought maybe it was just fluid since when I expressed my concern to a friend, she said to me, “If it hurts then its nothing to worry about.” I decided to wait for my next cycle but to my surprise, instead of going away, it began to rapidly grow. I called my doctor who sent me for a mammogram; then after a biopsy they told me it was positive for cancer.  

In April of 2011, I went for my first surgery which was to have a lumpectomy, only to then discover that instead of one lump there were two! One was 2.5 cm and the other was 2.6 cm. There were invasive or infiltrating cells that had spread to my lymphatic system. Twenty-four lymph nodes were removed and five were positive. That put me as having stage 3 breast cancer.

When I went back to my doctor’s office to get the report, she told me that I had to go for a second surgery because they had discovered some margins that were contaminated. That was the beginning of a long and painful healing process.

What can I say? It was a very scary experience. All I could think of was my husband and our five beautiful children
and I knew that whatever happened, I was going to fight this. I went through four months of chemotherapy, seven
weeks of radiation therapy and am now on Tamoxifen for five years.

I thank God for my family who became my support system, my church, Christian Community Restoration to
the Nations (CCRN) and my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, without whose strength I don’t think I could have
made it.

My goal is to share my story and encourage others that there is life after cancer.

Brenda White, July View My Story »

Brenda White

I had just returned from a beautiful two week vacation with my daughter in the Caribbean. We had never done a mother/daughter trip before – leaving my husband and two sons behind – but I was so glad we did it. We shared quality time together; and she got to see the island where I was born.

A month later I was faced with the worst news I had ever received – “you have breast cancer.” I had just had my
annual ob/gyn examine, which included a breast examination in which no lump was felt, so I was totally shocked
when they said they detected “something” in the mammogram.

When I returned to have the mammogram repeated, I had convinced myself that there was a mistake and the second test would surely clear me of any positive results. After all, there was no family history. Unfortunately, I was wrong. There was something there, way back in my chest wall and they needed to do a needle biopsy to see what they were dealing with. That test proved that I in fact had breast cancer.

It was the Labor Day weekend of 2010. I had to wait until after the long weekend before I could see a doctor and find out the results of the needle biopsy and to discuss the best course of action.  My husband and I decided not to tell anyone until we had all the facts from the doctor.  The holidayweekend was a blur; I cried a lot but had to hide
my feelings from my children; that was very hard to do.

My faith in God got me through though. I prayed a lot that weekend; I think more than I ever had in the past. By the time I saw the doctor that following week, I had put all my worries and concerns in God’s hands and somehow knew
everything would be okay.

The tumor was small and contained, and after a  very lengthy discussion with the surgeon, it was decided a lumpectomy would be the best route for me. A week later, the lump was removed and it was determined that no lymph nodes were involved. Thank God! However, further tests showed that I had triple negative breast cancer;
and that meant I had to receive six months of chemotherapy followed by six weeks of radiation.

I started chemo in October and finished in March. I remained relatively healthy during treatments and didn’t need to take much time off from my job. I lost my hair; my fingernails and toenails turned black. Radiation started in May
and continued until the end of June. My hair is back; my nails are normal again. I continue to
deal with neuropathy as an after effect of one of the chemo drugs but I know and believe one day that will be gone too.

Cancer is part of my history, but it is not my life. It has changed me in many ways. I don’t takethings for granted anymore. I wake up each day, and before my feet hit the floor I make sure to thank God for another day. I am thankful for all the blessings he has granted me, and the wonderful life he has provided for me and for my husband, family, and friends that have been supportive to me – especially when I needed them the most!

Evelyn Robinson-Powell, August View My Story »

Evelyn Robinson-Powell

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2002. I sat in my doctor’s office listening to him but not really hearing what he was saying.  All of a sudden, I was hearing words that had absolutely no meaning at all. He asked if I wanted him to call my husband. I looked up at him and said, “Only if he is going to go through this for me.” The doctor pushed a box of tissues towards me and I pushed them back. He said, “No one has to be strong.” I replied, “I’ve got Jesus and that’s enough.”

The hardest part was telling my family. Once I did that, I was ready to get on with what ever I had to do. I was not worried about losing my hair, because that is something that grows back even though I love keeping it cut down.
(Saves time and is very easy to care for.)

For the next three months, I was bombarded with doctor appointments, X-rays, 12 doses of chemotherapy, (once every three weeks) followed by eight weeks (five days a week) of radiation. I felt like my life was no longer mine. Just one thing after the other. By the time I started feeling a little better, it was time for another dose.

My family was marvelous. Even though they could not feel what I was going thru, just having them there was better than any medicine I had to take.

God is good and He will never leave you. Oh yea, the entire ordeal was rough, but remember, If the mountain was smooth, you wouldn’t be able to climb it. I know of the power of prayer. And I know that I am healed Because:

I AM FEARLESS, COURAGEOUS, AND STRONG.                                                                                                                                 I STAND SECURE ON THE FIRM FOUNDATION OF TRUTH AND I MEET LIFE WITH CONFIDENCE AND POISE, EXPECTING GOOD TO COME TO ME .

I am a firm believer of

HEBREWS 11:1 KJV
“NOW FAITH IS THE SUBSTANCE OF
THINGS HOPED FOR, THE EVIDENCE OF
THINGS NOT SEEN.”

I want to give all Glory and Honor to God and I thank Him for bringing me through. This past August, I celebrated being a 10-year survivor. I thank God for what He has done, what he is doing, and what He will do. I thank Him for my family and their continued support. I thank you, Sisters’ Journey, for the privilege to stand before you as you listen to my story.
God Bless You All!!!!!

Yolanda Jones, September View My Story »

Yolanda Jones

My name is Yolanda Jones. I am 41 years old. I live in Hamden, Connecticut with my husband Douglas Jones and two daughters, Paris and Tiatianna.

I went in for my first mammogram in 2007. I was only 36 at the time, but since my grandmother had been diagnosed with breast cancer, it was recommended that I not wait until I was 40 to have one done.  The results of this baseline
screening did not show any abnormalities.

Then one night in 2008, while I was taking a shower, I decided to do a breast self examination. That’s when I
found what proved to be a lump, and my journey began.  The next morning I called my doctor for an appointment. She immediately scheduled me for another mammogram. I had the mammogram and was told that the lump was benign and that I should not worry because it was probably a clogged duct. However, that did not sit well with me, so I continued to monitor the lump.

A few months into 2009, I noticed that the lump was getting larger so I went back to the doctor who ran a lot of tests
including another biopsy, an ultra sound and MRI. At this time I was told it could be many different things; but in my mind, I knew exactly what it was.

On September 24, I received a phone call around 8:30 p.m. from the doctor, who gave me the news that I indeed did have breast cancer. The doctor was worried that I was in shock about the news. But I told her, “NO WEAPON FORMED AGAINST ME SHALL PROSPER” (Isaiah 54:17), and the God that I serve would not put more on me than I could handle.

I went into Dr. Horowitz’s office knowing the steps I was going to take and that I was going to beat this.  January 13, 2010 was my surgery date. Although breast cancer was only found on one side, I decided to have a bilateral mastectomy. Suspicious areas were seen on the other side; that coupled with my family history of breast cancer, I knew that I did not want to go through the anxiety of watching and waiting.  Chemotherapy started two months after my surgery.  It was a rough road. But by the Grace of God, my family and friends, I am still here!

Desiree Walker, October View My Story »

Desiree Walker

Namaste!
I’m Desiree Walker. I have been chosen by God to spread the good news. Yes, breast cancer does not have to be a final destination. However, it can be a stop on one’s life journey. What an honor to be trusted by God to serve and give testimony to his people!  Being a two-time breast cancer victor, I must give all honor and glory to my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. I am happy to spend this month with you. May you be inspired & encouraged by my journey.

you surprised? I certainly was! Was it chance or divine order that the cancer was diagnosed early? For several
years, I had on-site mammograms through my then employer. I am so thankful I took advantage of this “perk.” In 2001, after comparing all of my films, the radiologist noticed my calcifications had changed shape. He said, “calcifications are common but the change is a red flag!” I had a stereotactic core needle biopsy done. A few days later, I heard those dreaded words “You Have breast cancer!” Was cancer not an older women’s disease? Clearly not! I spent endless hours and days researching this disease to educate myself. I wanted to be informed and empowered to aid the decisions made regarding my treatment with my health care team. A lumpectomy was recommended
because of my age and early detection.  I underwent two lumpectomies to achieve “clear margins” (a term used when the pathology report indicates the rim of the normal tissue surrounding tumor is removed and free of cancer cells).  My adjuvant therapy consisted of five weeks of radiation and a hormone therapy, Zoladex. This treatment was taken because the cancer cells were ER/PR+ (i.e. positive for estrogen and progesterone). For two and a half years, I took monthly injections of Zoladex.  The Zoladex caused me to experience medically induced menopause. Cancer can certainly take the wind out of your sail. However, Lena Horne said it best: “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

To increase breast cancer awareness, be aware that being young (under age 40) does not exempt you from a diagnosis. I began volunteering. I became a Witness Role Model with two New York City breast cancer organizations: the Witness Project of Harlem and Survivors in Spirit. Through my story, I began to highlight the importance of early detection and For three years, I addressed Spirituality and Cancer at Cancer Care’s Living with Cancer conferences. I later began volunteering with SHARE: Self-Help for Women with Breast or Ovarian Cancer to aid their outreach efforts regarding ovarian cancer.  I also began working with SHARE’s Side-by-Side program. The program is a unique educational program based on the concept that improving communication and coordination between patients and their healthcare team can enhance cancer patient’s care. The program works with medical students and doctors. In addition, I began attending local and national breast cancer conferences to stay up-to-date on the disease.

In early 2009, I had my annual mammography, which was negative. Six and a half months later a lump appeared. Another mammography was done.  In addition, ultrasound & core needle biopsies were done. A few days later, I was informed that I had a breast cancer recurrence. I chose to undergo a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. This time, my adjuvant therapy was comprised of a Benadryl & steroid combination since I had an allergic reaction to
both chemotherapy and targeted therapy. My chemo regimen was six rounds of two different drugs over 18 weeks. I had 52 infusions of Herceptin (targeted therapy) over one and a half years due to complications. This therapy was necessary since the cancer cells had an over-expression of the Her2 protein. As a result of the long-term steroid use, I developed cataracts. Later I was placed on an oral endocrine therapy called Tamoxifen since the cancer cells were ER/PR+ again. The road to recovery certainly has been long and steep with numerous hurdles to overcome. However, by God’s grace and mercy, excellent physicians, my family and friends I am victorious. I am also, eternally grateful for each day, always remembering to live in the moment.

As a result of my experiences following the recurrence, I joined SHARE at New York State’s Lobby Day in Albany, NY to advocate and raise awareness with legislators. I also became a member of the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) and began attending their annual Summit and Lobby Day in Washington, DC. In an ongoing effort to
understand breast cancer, I applied and was accepted into NBCC’s Project Lead Institute. It is an intensive basic science course on breast cancer for activists. I continue to attend conferences and webinars on breast cancer.

I feel blessed to be surrounded by my two beautiful and vivacious children. They have kept the wind in my sail. I am grateful to my sister, Yolanda for taking the helm as my eyes and ears throughout my treatment. Also, for her joining me in my breast cancer work. My daughter, son, surrogate children, sisterhood of breast cancer survivors along with a host of family and friends shower me in prayers and other immeasurable ways. The cancer journey should not be traveled alone. Thus, I am so thankful to have a supportive network with me on this breast cancer journey. The two words, thank you, cannot fully convey my heartfelt appreciation.  In closing, remember there’s a Spanish proverb that says ,“A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools.” Phillipians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Grace & Peace.

Joyce Becton Best, November View My Story »

Joyce Becton Best

I was born in Fort Benning, Georgia. I have lived in Europe and various states, as I grew up in an Army family, married into the Air Force and worked for 30 years as a civilian with the Army & Air Force Exchange Service. I currently live in Alexandria, Virginia and have a daughter, Jocelyn, 22.

The year-2010 was supposed to be the best year of my life, as I would celebrate my 30th anniversary with The
Exchange Service and retire. However I was abruptly reminded that there is a higher being that orders our steps.

My journey started August 31, 2010 after a routine mammogram. At 10:20 that morning my husband & I were told “the biopsy shows breast cancer.” This news did not hit as a total surprise as my oldest sister had been diagnosed with breast cancer two years earlier. She had a lumpectomy, radiation and was on a 5-year treatment plan with Arimidex.
What surprised me was the fact that I was diagnosed with a different type of breast cancer – the most aggressive with
the highest rate of re occurrence  and no meds to take after treatment — triple negative breast cancer!

Today I am much stronger than I was that day because of my faith, my family, my friends and the power of prayer!
After diagnosis, the medical team who coordinated my care at Walter Reed Medical Center met with my support
team (my husband, Art; my Mom, Louise Becton; my Sister, Renee Strickland) and me. We decided that although it was a very aggressive type of breast cancer, it was still in the early stage and that we could opt for a lumpectomy which was performed on September 22, 2010.  When we met with my oncologist after surgery, he identified a treatment plan that included: (1) 26 weeks of chemotherapy administered every other week over 14 weeks, then weekly for 12 weeks under a clinical trial program; (2) six weeks of daily radiation; (3) PRAYER!  

In all my years dealing with military doctors, I have never had one include prayer as part of the treatment plan! The right people are always put in our path.

Truthfully, I was overwhelmed by my diagnosis and the proposed treatment plan. My comfort zone and my plans
were turned upside down. I felt my world was spinning out of control. I admit that I had a pity party. I asked
“why me?”  Then, I stopped and realized that maybe I had been moving too fast in life to hear God’s special
message to me.

After sharing my diagnosis with my church family at Antioch Baptist Church in Fairfax, Virginia, I was told by
my Deacon to remember: “I am human, tears will fall and that is ok; but to turn it over to God, for he is ultimately
in control”.

On the first chemotherapy session, I knew it was not going to be a good day when there were problems getting
my port implanted. After they stuck me four times trying to find a vein to get the IV started. I was ready to walk
out. My sister put her hand on my arm and one of the nurses said: “everyone just STOP and let’s say a prayer.”
Stick number 5 worked! 

The 26 weeks of chemo that followed was the hardest thing that I had ever done! I experienced all of the dreaded side effects – lost hair, lost a sense of taste, lost nails, memory loss, nausea that seemed to go on forever and a total lack of energy. I became so apprehensive about further treatments that I was given a sedative to take before each treatment. M y sister provided me with two scriptures that I would read each night before treatment.

PETER 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

PSALM 34:4 “I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”

I had chemo on Monday or Tuesday, so by Sunday, I was functioning at 50% and felt the need to be a part of the
corporate worship. Midway through my chemo, I was tired mentally, physically and spiritually. I was tired of doctors and nurses. I was tired of the side effects. I was tired of not being able to “do it myself”. The sermon that Sunday was “Preparing for the big game… be an expector;  expect to win and expect to be used by God”. It struck me that my tests were preparing me for my testimony!

My last chemotherapy treatment was April 12, 2011. My last radiation treatment was June 27, 2011. Most effects
from my treatments are no longer with me. All tests continue to come back clear!

I truly thank God for the prayers offered for me by those known and unknown to me.I thank God for the people
that he has put in my path. I have met incredible women during this journey. We have shared stories. We have
shed tears for those we lost. We were and continue to be strengthened by the sharing of our faith and prayers.

I pray that all women are encouraged to do self exams and continue to get Mammograms! They do save lives!!!

I believe that everything in our lives is guided by the ultimate purpose of our lives. I talk freely about my survival because I pray that I can pass on the hope that was provided to me by breast cancer survivor Joyce Shambley. Don’t get me wrong, everyday is not a wonderful day after a cancer diagnosis. I am a believer. I am a cancer survivor. I am human and there are those days that I do not want to smile just to make those around me feel better about my cancer and there are those days when worry of re-occurrence creeps into my routine. On those days, I tell myself that that is normal, that I know that he will never forsake me and I reach out to one of my fellow survivors. We share concerns, shed a tear or two and then I thank God for traveling this incredible journey with me!

As I go through life now, I am strengthened by fellow survivors that I meet wherever I go. A cancer diagnosis
changes you, it does not defeat you, it makes you realize what really matters in life is not the job title or the job,
but how you live your life. I believe the story of our journey becomes a testimony of how great God is!
My outlook for the future was posted on my Facebook page on the one-year anniversary of my diagnosis “Watch
out world, Joyce is on a mission guided by My Lord and Savior. I cannot wait to see what the next years hold in
store for me.” 

God Bless You All!!!!!
joyce becton best

Sonya Goodman Young, December View My Story »

Sonya Goodman Young

Breast Cancer woke me up on a Friday night in mid October 2010. I was asleep when I felt a sharp shooting pain through my right breast. I knew right then that something was wrong. I got out of bed and went to the bathroom mirror to look at myself.  For the first time, I noticed a lopsided breast with dimples in it. In my spirit, I knew it was breast cancer; but at that moment, the Lord began to give me a peace that still surpasses my understanding. I began to recite the 23 Psalm over and over again.  Doing that got me through the weekend.  On the following Monday I went to my doctor who referred me for the screenings needed to confirm what I already knew. I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.  

Within one week of the alarm being sounded, I underwent a Radical Mastectomy of the right breast and the cancer was staged at 3. In one weeks’ time, my life had been turned upside down and nothing was quite the same anymore.

 My Oncologist told me that he had good and bad news for me. He advised me that the goal for my treatment would be for a cure, but the treatment would be very aggressive and I would suffer. That I did. In the weeks and months after the surgery, I underwent eight months of chemotherapy, six weeks of radiation and hormone therapy. As a result, I am celebrating my first year of survivorship.

I know that the term battle has been associated with cancer survivorship for a long time; and afterall that I had to endure, I still feel that I had a journey instead of a battle. The Lord allowed me to have a peaceful journey through the hell that is cancer treatment. I was particularly sensitive to all the treatments and was very ill most of the time, but through it all, I knew that God was there with me. I often say to people who ask about my experience that I had a lot of bad days physically but always good days spiritually. Daily meditation on God’s love and healing gave me a comfort that I cannot explain. I know that the Lord had his hand in my journey because everything that I needed fell into place. My parents were the greatest blessing of all. They took care of my 11 year old daughter along with making sure that I had what I needed. I was blessed with a large support network and retired parents who had the time and ability to accompany me to all of my treatments. My employer was gracious and supportive as well.  

It is important to note that I was 43 years old when diagnosed and I had been diligent about getting my mammograms and other health screenings. I had also been doing self breast examinations. I was told by medical professionals that the cancer I was diagnosed with was particularly aggressive and very common amongst
African American women. This fact both startled and angered me. The research showed that African American women are diagnosed less than woman of other races and dying more.  

I have believed since the day of my diagnosis that God placed cancer in my life for a greater purpose. I have used my experiences as a springboard to becoming a Community Health Advisor for the American Cancer Society. In this
program, I have partnered with 10 women in my community to assist them in getting their annual screenings and linking them to resources should a problem arise. I believe that knowledge is power and it has become my pleasure to educate my sisters in an effort to decrease the mortality rate of African American women.  

Knowledge is Power! Know your bodies, your options and the resources available 

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