Welcome to another year of courageous stories about breast cancer survival. My brother and I would like to take a moment to share with you what Sisters Journey means to us and what we think it meant to our mother, Linda White-Epps.
Sisters Journey is about bringing awareness of breast cancer and its devastation to the community. Our mother wanted to give women of color support and hope at a time when she felt they had none (there were times when she felt this hopelessness for herself). She always believed that if you were an advocate of your own body that early detection was the key to saving lives.
Those of us who are not breast cancer survivors have no idea what it is truly like to be one. Just like those of you whom never lost a parent and a best friend have any idea how difficult that is. We can only imagine and support one another. But as children of a survivor, we know you need support because…We have seen how often you are touched, poked and tested. We knew how much you didn’t like it, but you would tolerate anything just to stay alive, just to be here, with and for your children.
We continued to watch the fear in your eyes every time you went to an annual doctors visit. You were afraid they might say “you have cancer all over again,” even though you feel you have done everything you could not hear that ever again. We also noticed in your eyes the celebration of another year of survivorship, especially when you get past five years and you think you are free and clear of cancer for good. YOU THINK YOU MADE IT!
After watching our mom struggle through her years of surviving and then her fight to the end, we feel our mother died with dignity and God in her heart. She did as much as she could for those that she knew and even those she didn’t.
This calendar was more than just an idea, discussion, or topic that our mother liked to talk about. It was her passion! And every year once the calendar was complete, you would think she would be able to relax, but she would get started on the next year. Now that it has been almost a year since she passed, we realized that this calendar was not only a constant work in progress but also her legacy.
Please join us in congratulating the survivors in this year’s calendar on their courage, strength and the willingness to help others by letting their remarkable stories be told. May God bless all of you!
Dawn White-Bracey and George T. Epps, III
Would I ever laugh and dance again? Would I live to see grandchildren? Little did I know that my life would soon be brighter, richer, fuller.
My name is Carole Berrios. I feel blessed to be alive, blessed to be the mother of five beautiful children and delighted to be part of this calendar as a 41 year survivor.
Thus, breast cancer can be the most feared affliction to plague a woman’s body. The agony of losing one or both breasts can spark a catastrophic blow to the victim; family, friends and others can be permanently bruised by this adversary.
My journey began in the year 2000. I had a lump in my right breast for quite some time. My doctor and I were monitoring it very closely.
In January 2000, after completing my monthly breast exam, I thought I felt a lump. I had a scheduled mammogram for later that month so I waited until then to talk to the doctor about it because I never felt it again.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 1999. I discovered a lump a couple days after leaving the doctors office. I was asked to come in immediately.
I first discovered that I had breast cancer in December of 1996. I went for my annual mammogram. It was then that the doctor discovered a lump in my left breast.
In February 1998, during my annual mammogram, the technician took several pictures of my right breast. A few days later the nurse at my gynecologist’s office said the doctor would like to see me.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer 15 years ago at the age of 46, I was blessed to have been surrounded by hundreds of persons who supported me during the entire treatment process. At the time of my diagnosis I was an elementary school Principal.
In September 2003, after a routine mammogram, I was told a closer look was needed. I then had a MRI and biopsy. The test results showed malignant tumor/cysts.
I had just settled down with a book and with my dog Teddy in my lap, when I felt a strong dull burning sensation in my left breast.
While still grieving my mother’s death, I discovered a lump in my right breast.