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2017 Calendar

2017 Calendar

Survivor Stories

Beatrice Tartt-Warren, January View My Story »

Beatrice Tartt-Warren

I moved to New Haven, CT from the Bronx in 2008. I had purchased my home prior to the move in May of that year. I was a 43-year-old African American woman with two kids and a husband. I was living my American Dream. I was a Billing Instructor as well as the Billing Coordinator for Yale New Haven Hospital. Then in March 2009 my husband died of a fatal heart attack.

I was left alone to raise two kids by myself. I had no family, no friends, no support at all. As a teenager in New York, my GYN always taught me to do self-breast exams since I first started taking birth control pills at the age of 16. It was now February 2013. I was 48 years old, and while showering I discovered a lump. That same day I went to the radiology department at work and got a mammogram. The radiologist discovered something suspicious and wanted me to have a biopsy. I went for the biopsy and a week later I got a phone call and was told that the tumor was cancerous. I thought my whole world had come to an end. How could I tell my mother, who had just buried her daughter in 2010, that another daughter was now faced with a death sentence? How could I tell
my children that their mother – the only means of survival for them at that time – was going to die? I cried and cried and I prayed that God would give me direction, courage and strength to get through this. I was alone with no one to lean on. Nobody to hold me and say it is going be all right. All I had was myself and sweet Jesus.

I went to the doctor’s appointment and he confirmed it was cancerous and it was in my right breast duct, which he said was a good thing. It was breast Carcinoma In-situ, meaning it was confined to one area and it was at the beginning, at Stage 1, and my early detection was something that he commended. He talked about surgery (lumpectomy) and then he told me I was going to be fine.
He told me about aftercare, which would only be radiation. Because of the early detection, the cancer was not that advanced for the need of chemotherapy. Then after radiation treatment I would undergo five years of hormonal therapy.

I had the lumpectomy and then completed the radiation treatment. Physically I was doing okay; but the mental and emotional part of it was difficult. I continued to feel overwhelmed, depressed, lonely, afraid, empty and doomed. I needed to talk to someone about these feelings and I could not keep walking around feeling empty. I went on-line and found a cancer support group, Nubian
Sisters. I left a message, and within a day Sister Jackie Roberts called and invited me to the group at the Smilow Breast Cancer Center, the same place I had surgery. I had this feeling that it was a sign from God that I was no longer going to be alone. I got to the group and have been a member ever since. The support, the outreach, the group sessions, and the awareness activities that the Nubian Sisters have made me a part of gives me so much hope. The sisterhood we have for one
another is the extended family that I never had. I began to feel alive all over again.

I have my bad days but my good days outweigh them all. I am working, eating right, spiritually rich and financially okay today. God only gives me what he thinks I can handle. I have a strong relationship with Him and the people He placed in my life, and for that I am so grateful. Every opportunity that is out there for me to help someone the way that support groups helped me
will forever keep us going strong. I extend myself 100% because it’s a part of my healing process to give back what was once given to me. It keeps me full of joy. We must always continue to develop more outreach programs, research, medications, testing, prevention, and educational programs to fight this monster called Cancer. For united we will stand but divided we will fall.

I thank Sisters’ Journey for considering me a candidate for your organization’s event. I have been cancer free for three years now and have eternal freedom from this disease. AMEN!

Shelly Hicks, February View My Story »

Shelly Hicks

I always knew I would get breast cancer, I just never thought I would get it this early in life.

My name is Shelly Daniley Hicks. I am 35 years old and the mother of an 11-year-old young man. I am also a third generation breast cancer survivor, diagnosed at the age of 34. I found my lump myself and watched it for a year under the direction of my doctor. When I brought it to her attention, she said, “Oh it’s probably nothing.” So I believed it was probably nothing. As time progressed, so did the lump. It grew and caused me periodic pain. Now that I’ve heard that breast cancer doesn’t cause pain, I believe that was God, telling me to pay attention and get checked. I listened and scheduled my mammogram.

I went in for the mammogram on June 3, 2015. Once the results were reviewed, the doctor asked me to stay for an ultrasound that same day. He mentioned that he saw calcification’s on the ultrasound and wanted to biopsy later that day. Yes, I had my mammogram,ultrasound, and biopsy all in the same day! My mom was with me. We went to lunch, but instead of eating I became a “Google Doctor.” I researched calcifications and diagnosed myself before the biopsy. Once the biopsy was complete, I went home and waited – waited for what seemed like forever to receive the news. About a week later I got the call – I had Stage 1 breast cancer!

The appointments seemed to come quickly from that point. I elected to have the same team my mother used three years prior and we all went to work on saving my life. July 6, 2015, I had a double mastectomy with reconstruction. Dr. Horowitz was my breast surgeon and Dr. Au was my plastic surgeon. They were the best
team I could ask for. From diagnosis to surgical follow-up and every moment in between, they were and still are extremely supportive. They, along with the staff at Smilow Cancer Hospital, made sure I was knowledgeable about my diagnosis, prognosis, and care.

I now know that a diagnosis isn’t the end of the story. It became the beginning of a new chapter for me. I am forever grateful to God, my family, and my friends for being by my side all the way. Their support reminded me of the importance and value of friendship, love, and encouragement.

My advice to other young women is to check yourselves often and be an advocate for your bodies; don’t let your voice be quieted. Early detection saves lives.

Cynthia Cherish Malaran, March View My Story »

Cynthia Cherish Malaran

At age 39, I was diagnosed with a triple positive breast cancer that immediately altered the course of my life. Or did it? One has to wonder if DNA, a strong family history of breast cancer, a fighter’s spirit and creative tenacity were put in place from a young age so that this diagnosis could happen for a bigger purpose. No one will ever know, but fortunately this was the setting for an outcome that would lead to a double mastectomy without reconstruction, leading to an epic lesson in healing, understanding what beauty truly is, and inspiring the world to learn to love themselves without having to experience this through illness.

Two years of constant nausea brought me to a doctor’s office one day in 2015, where a nurse stopped in her tracks doing a manual exam to say, “You have a lump behind your nipple. You need to get a biopsy right away.” Elated, finally I had an answer as to why I was living with ongoing fatigue, fog, anxiety and nausea. The feeling of “Finally. An answer,” quickly turned into “Oh crap. An answer.” And that answer was cancer – an aggressive HER2 positive strain, which thankfully could be treated with the powerful lifesaving drug, Herceptin. Neo-adjuvant treatment would begin in April in order to shrink my tumor before surgery in October that same year.

Chemotherapy began and this ignited a strength in me that was surprising; instead of taking me down, it woke me up. My curiosity and desire to come out in the end a better person inspired fellow patients, friends, strangers, and those who treated me at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. By posting my journey on a near daily basis in a string of posts entitled “The Cancer Diaries,” hash-tagged as such, people from around the world discovered my words and shared their experiences in return. My words brought hope for so many trembling with fear with their fresh diagnosis. I never wanted to be a part of this club, but I am grateful for the knowledge and role-modeling that I can provide for women at the crossroads themselves of whether or not they should get breast reconstruction. I was one voice of success, freedom and survival that they could listen to. These “strangers” became family and they, along with my best friend and friends from previous jobs and schools dating back to kindergarten, formed an exquisite
support circle: the “village.” It does take a village to heal and support a woman who is healing a cancer. These huge-hearted people were the cheerleaders when my family couldn’t be there.

Still, at every turn, there appeared a new challenge. As I resumed my life as a DJ, Reverend and now author, I discovered I had become seriously allergic to Herceptin and was immediately taken off treatment. Suddenly being left flapping in the wind in a scary place without treatment, I knew then the only thing I could do to save myself was to keep my immune system strong by doing all the things in life that simply mean happiness. For the rest of my life, I have committed to doing just that in many forms. I am currently hosting a radio show entitled “Primary Food” about the nourishment of creativity at Heritage Radio Network in Brooklyn, NY. As Rev. DJ CherishTheLuv, I am DJing for megastars such as Oprah Winfrey, Bono, Amy Schumer and Nile
Rodgers; DJing for charitable events, making music with friends, planning surprise wedding proposals, and officiating weddings. As I pen my experience as Survivor and Author, I am writing books on my cancer journey, coaching people, and traveling with my pup. Writing for Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Visible Ink Program has allowed my inspirational and healing piece, “Cancer In A Jar,” to be published in their anthology and performed live by on and off-Broadway actors on stage. You can find the video of this healing piece on YouTube, under “Visible Ink, Cancer In a Jar.” To find out when my books publish, or even hire me to bring life, joy and music to your event, please go to Follow me on Facebook and Instagram @djcherishtheluv

    Click Here to view “Cancer in a Jar”

Allyson Epps, April View My Story »

Allyson Epps

My Name is Allyson Epps. I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer on November 19, 2012. My diagnosis was called Invasive Lobular Carcinoma. It was found in my left breast after both a mammogram and an ultrasound. (I was always on time in getting my yearly mammograms.) After a biopsy, subsequent tests showed I had a small amount of protein called HER2 (Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2). This protein can control how breast cancer cells grow.
Knowing whether you are HER2+ or HER2- can help determine the best options for treatment. The surgery I received was a lumpectomy of my left breast. Afterwards I had chemotherapy treatments followed by radiation. I also participated in a clinical trial during which I received additional chemotherapy including the standard chemotherapy Taxotere and Cytoxan plus Herceptin. This therapy targeted the HER2 protein I had in my breast. My decision to move forward with this clinical trial treatment was done with the hope that it would prevent the reoccurrence of my cancer and that by doing so it may help other patients with a similar type of breast cancer.

At this time I have been cancer free for almost four and a half years. Throughout my journey, I prayed and kept the spirit of God in my life, as I have always to this day. I also felt that it was important to communicate my feelings through Sisters’ Journey’s Social Media Facebook page with the hope that I could reach women who may be currently undergoing or may have previously gone through the “Pink Journey.” I wanted to give a positive and inspirational message as I traveled through my journey of being ‘Pink’ with hopes that it would help others. I kept myself anonymous and used the name “In My Pink Voice.” Through my postings, I wanted to reach out and let others know there is hope when diagnosed with breast cancer. I began to write in my anonymous imaginary “Pink Voice” on December 21, 2012. I thank Sisters’ Journey for allowing me to be a voice of my own personal journey on their social media page. I did this to help others by giving words of hope and inspiration, with a sense of humor, love, and most of all, encouragement.

In 2013 I decided to become a founder of the Radiant Pink Angels. Our mission as a social group was to come together for the common cause of fighting breast cancer by fundraising for mobile
mammogram services.

I have had so many supporters during this journey. My one supporter who passed away in June 2015 was my husband, Marvin Epps. Marvin was there for me and he attended every chemotherapy appointment. This man loved me strong through this “Pink Journey.” I know God is smiling on him for being a fantastic husband. Marvin would say to me, “Allyson you have breast cancer and so do I.”

I am very thankful for all who have supported me: My father Travis Ford for taking me to my chemo appointments; his wife Jeannette for being there for me after my surgery; my Aunt, Jacqueline Bracey, for her words of wisdom; my sisters, Dimitria, Terri and Ginger for being loving sisters in the time of need; my Mother in-law, Eliza Epps and the Epps family for their loving support; and for all my co-workers who let me know that they were there for me if I needed anything. I thank you all for your loving support.

When I think of the goodness of the Lord I often sing the song Total Praise:

“Lord, I will lift my eyes to the hills, knowing my help is coming from You;
Your peace You give me in time of the storm, You are the source of my strength;
You are the strength of my life, I lift my hands in total praise to You.
Amen.”

“He Gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” – Isaiah 40:29 (NIV)

Angela Perez-Cook, May View My Story »

Angela Perez-Cook

Hi, my name is Angela Perez-Cook and I am a Breast Cancer Survivor.

In May 2013, I went for my annual mammogram checkup, which I do every year. After the checkup, I had an ultrasound and that’s when the technician asked me to go to another room and wait for the doctor to speak with me. Right then and there I thought, “Oh my God, they are going to tell me I have breast cancer!” So the doctor came in, sat down, and with no hesitation came right out and said, “You have breast cancer and we suggest you get a biopsy even though we already know it is cancer.” Now I’m nervous and scared so I asked, “If you already know, why the biopsy?” He said, “It’s the procedure and they needed confirmation.” Well, as you already know, that’s exactly what it was. I had Stage 2 Breast Cancer. I was in my early fifties.

During the surgery, which was a lumpectomy, cancer cells were detected in one of my lymph nodes, so I needed to have chemotherapy and radiation treatments. All I thought about was losing my hair; but I was all right with it because I knew it would probably happen. It wasn’t until my second week of chemo that my hair started falling out and even though I thought I was prepared for it, in reality I actually wasn’t. I started crying. It was only with the support of my coworkers and family as well as Ms. Denise Armstrong, the Social Worker from Smilow Cancer Hospital, that I was able to cope with this cancer.

I had some good days but mainly bad ones when I would get so sick that I couldn’t eat and would not want to be bothered with anyone. On the last day of my chemo I became so sick that I was hospitalized for a week. But again I overcame it.

My radiation treatment wasn’t nearly as bad as the chemotherapy but I did have a lot of discomfort and burnt areas around my breast. It took a little out of me but I was able to cope with it. During my battle I was introduced to this beautiful woman named Ellen Cotto, founder of the Sisters
Sharing Organization, who was there by my side throughout my cancer and still remains by my side to help with whatever situations that I still deal with.

I never did groups because I didn’t like to sit around people and discuss my business, but I dealt with it in other ways. I’m just so thankful and grateful to God for blessing me through the battle. So I say to everyone that whatever happens in your life, never think of the worst, stay positive and pray because God hears you and will get you through it. I don’t think about what happened; my scars are my only reminder. I AM A SURVIVOR!!!

“God is bigger than your pain, bigger than your side effects, bigger than your finances, bigger than the unspokenness between you and those you love. And God is certainly bigger than your cancer.”
– Karen Tripp

Denise McCall, June View My Story »

Denise McCall

I moved to New Haven, Connecticut from the Bronx in 2008. I had purchased my
home prior to the move. My name is Denise McCall. My journey started two years ago.
I was taking a shower when I felt a small lump. I really thought it was nothing but I still
went to the doctor the next day. I was immediately told to have both a mammogram and
an ultrasound. I said to myself: “Let me get this over and return to work.”

I was waiting in this small room for my results when I was called back for a second
ultrasound, and that’s when I started to get a little worried. The radiologist walked in
to assist the technician with the ultrasound. By now my heart was pounding and my
thoughts were racing. I felt like I was all alone. The radiologist turned to me and said,
“Yup, it looks like you have breast cancer,” and left the room. I felt like I had just been
hit by an 18-wheeler. I could not believe this news. Tears started to roll down my face
uncontrollably. The technician just gave me the biggest hug. I thought how could the
radiologist give me the worst news of my life and not have any sympathy.

I had just heard the worst news of my life and to know I was there alone made things
worse. I went to my car and cried uncontrollably. It was so surreal. I never imagined
this would happen to me. I had to tell my family and friends. A voice inside me said
you have two choices: You can either travel down this path and have a pity party for
yourself, or you can choose happiness and be positive. At that point, something
magically happened. I made a conscious decision to be happy.

My journey along the way has been a long but a happy one. It bothered me to be
around people that made me feel sad. It was important to surround myself with people
who made me laugh and feel happy. I’ve made it through with the support of my
family and friends. I had the lump removed. I went through chemotherapy and I had
radiation treatments. I lost my hair and I accepted my journey in a positive way. Losing my hair
did not bother me; after all, hair does grow back.

Going through breast cancer has taught me so much. It made me realize who my real friends were.
I was very shocked to see the people that actually cared. In an instant, I was out of work with no
income. Never would I have imagined that would have happened – and I was a single parent with
two kids. I thank God that my oldest daughter was living with me at the time. She was able to
support the kids and I. Without her I would have lost everything. I am so thankful I had her love
and financial support.

I have learned to enjoy life more and to be more grateful for my blessings. I make sure I take time
for myself and give myself the time I deserve. I appreciate life more. It is now a priority to do more
of what makes me happy. I still give of myself to others but most importantly I remember to give to
myself. I realize I must enjoy life to the fullest. I now look back down the road I’ve traveled and
can’t believe I went through it all.

I’ve never allowed myself to get caught up in everything. I had the best doctor in the world, Dr.
Kristen Zarfos. I always had a feeling of peacefulness because I knew I was in good hands with her.
Through it all, I learned exactly where I stand in the lives of others, and with that being said, I
shall continue to enjoy my life exactly how I choose.

Maggie Gardner, July View My Story »

Maggie Gardner

I give thanks to God for my life and for this wonderful opportunity to share my story. My name is
Maggie Gardner. I grew up on the Island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean. I
came to the U.S. in 1989 and began a career in the health care field. Today, I am the Executive
Director of Gardner’s House.

I have survived breast cancer twice, and I’m here to tell you about my journey and how it has affected
my life. I received my first cancer diagnosis between 1999 and 2000. I had both a mammogram and
an ultrasound but neither showed anything definitive; however, the doctor advised me to monitor for
six months. During that time I noticed leakage when certain areas around my left breast were
pressed. I returned to the doctor who removed a portion of the duct and sent to pathology to confirm
an infection. My duct was infected but there was also a malignancy behind the infected duct. I was
diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). He then removed a larger area which came back
with positive margins so I then underwent a partial mastectomy. I was treated with Tamoxifen which
eventually I was unable to tolerate. At that time, I had everything I needed to wage my battle against
cancer – a wonderful job with benefits, financial security, and support from friends and family, as
well as the wonderful residents at the Gables in Farmington, where I worked. These important
resources – my “safety net” – helped me fight stronger and recover faster than I might have otherwise.
I know this to be true because I had a recurrence in 2005, under very different life circumstances.

The recurrence in 2005 was on the same side under my arm. This time I had a mastectomy with
reconstruction to follow with a saline implant. Things were different because I lost everything – a
dear hospice patient, money, friends; my marriage dissolved and I was left to face the challenges of
cancer largely alone. The stress took its toll not only on my body, but also on my mind. In addition
to cancer, I faced severe depression from financial strain and social loss. God bless a wonderful
doctor, Dr. Christie, who understood the stress I was under and helped me fight for my life.

Given my struggles at the time, I sought assistance through the traditional health care system. I
had surgery, was prescribed medication, and alerted about side effects. My body was treated, but
the difficulties with my body were only part of the problem. There was still the ‘other half of the
person’ – the half whose social world had been turned upside-down, who no longer could smile
and laugh, who could no longer afford rent. I found that additional sources of help were needed to
deal with the psychological ramifications. Without the availability of proper resources, you become
more susceptible to depression and healing as a whole person.

It has been 16 years now and I am still on my journey. I recently noticed a lopsidedness developing
and after discussing with my doctor, it will probably mean another surgery to correct. I find
surgery an exhausting ordeal. The pain of the healing is often what is most feared; but it also takes
me weeks to recover proper cognitive functioning, as I feel myself in an uncomfortable haze,
straining to regain normal alertness and memory.

I have seen a growing need of support for some of the most challenging parts of the cancer
experience: the dread, the pain, the compromise in post-treatment functioning, the income loss
– things that speak to basic needs, particularly for those who have limited financial resources. I
have used my time during and in-between cancer experiences to pursue both formal and informal
research. My research has shown me that I am not alone in the types of situations that I have
encountered. Thus, the birth of Gardner’s House. Through my own personal experience and
research, I have learned to address these issues to help provide support for others like myself
through the care experiences that Gardner’s House makes possible.

Diane Langford, August View My Story »

Diane Langford

Hello My Name Is Diane Daniley Langford and I am a four-year cancer survivor!

My journey of breast cancer began in April 2012. I was on vacation with my husband, daughter
and grandson when I began feeling a consistent pain in my left breast. I had had a mammogram
four months prior that had been normal. Instead of waiting, I decided to call my GYN while on
vacation and tell him about the pain and to schedule an appointment. Because I had dense breasts,
I was able to get an ultrasound scheduled, which I had upon my return.

They didn’t detect any sign of cancer at this point, so they did a biopsy. After not receiving a follow
up call from my doctor, I called to inquire about the results and the doctor responded, “Oh yes,
you have it.” In that moment I did not initially have any fear. It’s as if the Lord gave me a calmness
and I knew this was nothing that HE could not bring me through. I felt like He just grabbed me in
his arms and began to let me know that He had me.

I did however become fearful after the doctor told me that I had the most aggressive kind of breast
cancer, triple-negative (Stage 2), which is more common among African American women. That
was a good place for the “enemy” to plant a seed of doubt.

My mother, who is now a 36-year breast cancer survivor, had a double mastectomy as a part of her
treatment. I think because of that, I began to gravitate towards the same and decided to have one
as well. I also received chemotherapy and radiation therapy as a part of my treatment.

My daughter was diagnosed at the age of 34 and is now a two-year plus survivor. All I can say is,
“Thank you Jesus!” We both completed a series of genetic testing and learned that breast cancer
was not hereditary in our family despite three generations of survivors. It was quite puzzling to
hear this information. However, as my daughter said, it was just in the plan of God, who will get
ALL the glory out of this. MY GOD IS AMAZING!

My husband and daughter never left my side during this process. My mother was absolutely
amazing and my family was awesome. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful and supportive
family. I encourage people to not focus on the cancer but rather keep their eyes on the healer. God
has supplied all we need to get through whatever trial we must go through, JESUS! There was a
question asked in scripture, “Is there anything too hard for GOD?” Answer, No. There is
absolutely “nothing too hard for GOD.” Genesis 18:14 & Jeremiah 32:17

May God continue to bless and keep us is my prayer.
From the Word:
“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even
as thy soul prosperth.”
– 3 John: 2 KJV

Betty Cooke-Joyner, September View My Story »

Betty Cooke-Joyner

I am a native of Camden, South Carolina, born to the proud parents of Robert and Carrie Bell
(Patterson) Cooke. As I was the seventh child out of nine, it was always symbolized as a lucky sign.

Over the years, I have lived in Camden, South Carolina; Patterson, New Jersey; and New Haven,
Connecticut where I currently reside and have lived for 56 years. After graduating from Wilbur
Cross High School in 1968, I worked at Yale Divinity School for two years and then, in 1971, I began my career at Southern New England Telephone Company (SNET) that over time transitioned to become SBC and is now AT&T where I am currently employed over 45 years as well as with the New Haven Parking Authority where I have worked for 18 years and counting.

In 2001 I noticed some leakage from my breast. I immediately called my doctor who ordered a mammogram that was abnormal. I then had a biopsy. Once the results were in, I was told that I had breast cancer. In a follow-up consultation visit, I learned that my cancer was very treatable. The treatment consisted of a procedure called a lumpectomy (removal of the tumor and surrounding tissue) followed by eight weeks of chemotherapy.

I always had routine checkups. After one of my mammograms and follow-up visit in 2003, I was contacted by my physician, Dr. Melissa Perkal, and was told that additional cells needed to be removed resulting in a Mastectomy (removal of the breast). At this point, I turned to God and asked Him to please take my hand and lead me on; and God answered my prayers. The procedure was flawless and the treatment of another round of chemotherapy went well.

Overall, throughout trying times and ups and downs, I would like to give much thanks and appreciation for the many prayers to my faithful support team which consisted of family and friends: my daughter and son-in-law (LaVonne & Ossie Day); my sons (Montez and Clarence); my grandchildren (DaVonne, CheVonne, Sumiah, Ossie, III, JyMar, DaVion, and Tahaji); my great-grandchild (Neriah); and Bishop Colon & Pastor Dorthea Haywood; Dr. Andrea Silber (chemotherapy doctor); Marie Robinson (close friend); and Sisters’ Journey. I am currently serving in the capacity of Daughter Ruler and would like to send a heartfelt “Thank You” to Pocohontas Temple #55-Daughters of Elks.

In life, I always remember to treat everyone with a kind hand as there is good in everyone and I’m
always praying for new treatments in breast cancer.

God bless all the survivors!

Shelby Johnson, October View My Story »

Shelby Johnson

“I’m One of A Kind!” Hi, my name is Shelby Gibson-Johnson. I’m the mother of one daughter
(Jessica) and grandmother of two handsome boys (Amir 10 & Aiden 3).

Let me start by saying that if I had been doing my regular mammograms as the health care
professionals suggested, I would have caught the cancer in time and it wouldn’t have gotten to
stage 2. It was while I was doing a self-breast exam that I felt a “LUMP”; but I shrugged it off and
thought no more about it until I had pain in that particular area a few months later.

As the pain increased in severity so did the size of the original lump I had felt. It was only then that
I did a walk-in to Planned Parenthood, explaining my situation. They did a chest x-ray and after
the reading was abnormal, they sent me to Dr. Russo for a mammogram of what they had seen on
the x-ray. Dr. Russo did the normal mammogram with me standing and then another with me
lying down. He also did an ultrasound and confirmed there was a mass. They then set up an
appointment for me at the Norma F. Phriem Foundation. It was there that a biopsy was done and
after all tests were completed I met with Dr. Garvey and his nurse, Pat.

That was the day, October 19, 2012, that I received the most devastating news: The mass was
malignant and I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Yes, the Big “C” had found it’s way into
my life. After the initial shock and eventual acceptance, I had faith that I would make it.

On December 4, 2012, I underwent surgery to remove the mass (lumpectomy) and cancerous
lymph nodes. After the surgery I then underwent chemotherapy followed by radiation. One
morning during my chemo days I started to comb my hair and it was coming out! I had a
“TOTAL meltdown!” I called my sisters at work (one in Bridgeport and the other in South
Carolina). They listened, encouraged, and prayed for me as well as cried with me. Then I went to
the hair salon and Melissa gave me a real low cut. As she was cutting my hair, the tears fell and just
wouldn’t stop. My sister held me and cried also; then when I saw Melissa with tears falling from
her eyes, it was such an emotional moment.

At one point I felt that I was the ugliest person on earth, but soon came to the realization that I
was still alive! I grabbed hold of my faith even more, encouraging myself, knowing that God had
me and allowed me to be here for a reason. I continue to have some bad days but when I think of
where I was, where I am today and how far I’ve come through the Grace and Mercy of God, I can
smile through it.

I had the best support group anyone going through a difficult situation could have. I had my faith
in God first and foremost, and I always had support from family, friends and my Pastor.

Due to me being the ‘FIRST’ – yes, first one ever to have cancer in my entire family, everyone now
makes sure that they get their yearly mammograms.

What a mighty and awesome God we serve! Thank you one and all for the love and support. It is
well appreciated.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I leave you with these words: “Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”

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