Stories of Hope »

2001 Calendar

2001 Calendar

It’s another beautiful year. The response to the 2000 calendar for Sisters’ Journey was overwhelming. Never before have so many among us revealed their 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. Monthly breast examinations, check ups and mammograms are the tools to use. We must take advantage of these 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 situation.

As we embark on another year and the second adventure into publishing a 2001 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.

I thank each and every one who has helped, once again, with this project. Materially, the calendar has brought monetary contribution to the Connecticut Chapter for the American Cancer Society. That organization not only provides some of the valuable research, but also conducts a rigorous campaign of advocacy so that all can understand the significance of the battle. However, and perhaps more important, making a calendar has highlighted the strengths of my sisters, women who have faced and defeated breast cancer I share their triumphs each and every year.

Linda White Epps- Founder

Survivor Stories

Joan L. (Earle) Osborne, January View My Story »

Joan L. (Earle) Osborne

I was born in New Haven, but now I live in Lanham, Maryland. I discovered a lump in my breast while doing self-examination in January 1982. After further testing and consultations, I had a radical mastectomy in May 1982 and I underwent nine months of chemotherapy. I have been truly blessed with a wonderful family, friends and a strong medical support system.

Wendy F. Holloway Mabins, February View My Story »

Wendy F. Holloway Mabins

It was September the 21st, 1999. I was at a family reunion in South Carolina when I discovered that my mole had swollen on my face. My mother was concerned and told me that I should get that checked out. So, when I returned home to Connecticut, I went to the doctor’s office. He told me it was a cyst. He drained it and I returned home, happy.

While lying in bed one night, I just happened to run my hand across my chest and I discovered a lump on my right breast. I called the clinic. They told me to wait until the surgical clinic opened on Wednesday. During the appointment, I noticed that they kept sending different people in to examine me. Then, I was told I had to have an ultrasound. I was told I could not leave until the doctor looked at the pictures. He told me its was a CPI and I would have to come back next week to have it drained. Several days later, however, a specialist called me and told me I should come to his office to have a needle biopsy. I went home, after that, and tried not to worry. That following Monday, the specialist called and told me I had cancer. I was shocked and questioned why they told me I had a cyst. I decided to get a second opinion, but received the same diagnosis.

On October 3rd, I had a mastectomy. It was a very emotional surgery. To wake up and find that you have lost a part of your body, a sacred part of a woman’s body, is not easy. In addition, I am handicapped and the way I walk was a concern for the doctors. They were afraid that I would fall and that would not be good. Then I had to start chemotherapy because I had 31 nodes removed and there was cancer in one. Chemo took all my hair out. It made me so sick that I could not even stand the smell of food. I finished chemo and I then had to receive radiation therapy. Radiation was not as bad as chemo. I made it through. My treatment is over now. But, I will be monitored for five years. I am Cancer free. With God on my side, I will make it. The Witness Project is a great help because we support each other.

Rachel M. Taylor, March View My Story »

Rachel M. Taylor

Twenty-eight years ago at 2:00 p.m.: I’ll never forget the day. I was taking my shower, preparing to go to work at Pratt and Whitney in North Haven. I discovered a lump in my right breast. I called my doctor and he examined me. He suggested I see a surgeon since breast cancer runs in my family. My mother died from the disease.

My surgery was a success. I did not have to have chemotherapy or radiation. With the support of my family, I am doing great. I am glad I found the lump when I did.

Now, I have a mammogram every six months. I have retired from Pratt and Whitney after 33 years of service. I am 64 years old, married to John T. Taylor, Sr., have one son, John Taylor, Jr. and a grand son John Taylor, III and a loving daughter in law, Cheryl H. Taylor. I support all women that have had similar surgery.

Shirley Allen, April View My Story »

Shirley Allen

My name is Shirley Allen. I live in West Haven, Connecticut. I have been married to my husband, Willie, for 36 years. We have two sons and six granddaughters.

I had been performing self-exams regularly and continued to notice a tender area in my right breast. During several visits to my doctor, needle aspirations were performed. I was assured that everything looked fine. On another visit, I was seen by a different physician and, after the exam, was told that the uncomfortable needle aspiration would not be necessary because the last two were negative.

However, a short time later, I received a letter from my original doctor urging me to follow up with a biopsy, regardless of the previous aspirations. And not wanting to go through such a procedure, I decided that everything would be fine.

In January 1990, I broke my hand and had to wear a cast. When it was time for the cast to be removed, I decided, since I was already in the doctor’s office, I would have the breast examined again. After the exam, I was sent immediately for a mammogram. Just two days after that, I was given an appointment for a biopsy. I was told the mass was malignant. A mastectomy was performed on May 14, 1990. That was followed by six months of chemotherapy and, praise be to God, ten years later, I am cancer free.

Phoebe Gray Chandler, May View My Story »

Phoebe Gray Chandler

What a way to start the millennium! The middle of January 2000 came and I got the biggest surprise of my life. It all really started in September 1999 with my usual mammogram. Having had about five or six x-rays, I was then told to return the next day for additional x-rays. The doctor in charge said all was well. Then the January surprise – heaviness in my chest and a shortness of breath. I brought it to my husband’s attention and discovered a protrusion in my left breast. At that point, my husband advised me to see the doctor immediately.

I made the appointment to see my ob-gyn. He advised me to see a surgeon. The very pleasant surgeon took a fluid test and only found some fatty tissue. She advised me to have an ultra sound within two weeks. At that time, a minute tumor was found and the doctor still was not concerned. But, he insisted an exploratory surgery be done. It took place two days later. It revealed a 4.5 cm lubular tumor to the surprise of the surgeon who exclaimed, “this is a gift” – meaning that the early detection would insure localization of the growth. The pathologist indicated that this tumor had been in that area for at least five years.

My husband and I were then summoned to the doctor’s office and the announcement came: “You have breast cancer.” Even though the mass was in a good location, I thought my world was coming to an end. But I felt that I would survive. The Bible verse from the 118th Psalm (17th verse) came to mind: “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” My daughter Beth and I had a consultation visit to decide upon a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. A lumpectomy was administered on April 12, 2000. The doctor removed 22 lymph nodes of which three were malignant. There also were four malignant areas. Following breast reduction on the right side, I had healing problems for about two and one half months. A third surgery (a mastectomy on June 14, 2000) was necessary.

Thanks to the nurses from Interim Healthcare who worked tirelessly to help me get back to good health. I could not have made it without my husband (Joe Douglass), my son (Joe), my daughter (Beth), and all my special friends at my churches in Branford and New Hampshire. I owe a special thanks to my sisters, Dorothy in Pennsylvania and Maureen in Maryland who came and stayed with me in Connecticut during my initial chemo treatments in the summer months. It certainly brought my family closer together than ever before. I give all the thanks and praise to the power of God for my complete healing. December 6, 2000 was my last chemotherapy treatment. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

Carol A. Pollard, June View My Story »

Carol A. Pollard

I am a native of New Haven and attended public schools. I graduated from South Central Community College and attended the University of New Haven for one year. I have been employed at Yale University’s Law Library as a Cataloger in the Technical Services/Catalog Department for a long time.

The year 1987 was traumatic for me, because my mother, Lillian Pollard, died on January 10. In the latter part of May, I found a lump in my right breast by self-examination. My primary care physician gave me an appointment immediately. A mammogram and ultra sound was taken. He recommended that I see a surgeon. The surgeon examined me and suggested that I see a pathologist to have a biopsy done at Temple Medical Center. A few days later, a biopsy was done and the result was a diagnosis of a malignant cancerous tumor. I did not want to believe it! My father and the nurse consoled me.

A few days later my surgeon spoke to me about breast cancer, lymph nods, mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. She gave me her books to read! Another doctor was consulted for reconstruction of the breast. Because the surgery could not be scheduled before August, I consulted with my doctor about going on a vacation. It was agreed that I could go.

My father, older sister and I went to Detroit, Michigan for my father’s Masonic session for a few days. Then we visited my brother Gale and his family in Cincinnati, Ohio for the rest of the week. Upon returning to New Haven, the surgeon scheduled my operation for August 17, 1987 at the Hospital of Saint Raphael at 1:00 p.m. My family and friends prayed for me. The surgery took seven hours. A mastectomy and several lymph nodes were removed with reconstruction. After the recommended time, I chose to take chemotherapy treatment for six months.

God gave me the strength and faith to get through the operation and the recovery. He also gave my doctors the knowledge and the gift to perform the surgery. God, family, and friends gave me the will to live. It has been thirteen years since that day in August.

Emma Lumpkin, July View My Story »

Emma Lumpkin

I was born December 25, 1920. I am very happy to say that for over 30 years, I have been cancer free.

At the time of my breast cancer, I was a widow with three grown children. Before my husband died, there was always a houseful of foster children in addition to my own.

Having been a LPN, I know that I should have not ignored the pain that preceded my doctor’s visit. But, I thought I had pulled a muscle and I just kept ignoring it. I guess I was just so busy taking care of others that I neglected myself.

Thank God for so much support from family and friends and for 80 years of life.

Phyllis D. Bowen, August View My Story »

Phyllis D. Bowen

I am a native of New Haven born March 31, 1936. I’ve lived in New Haven all my life except for two years when I resided in San Antonio, Texas. I have two children, Derrick and Danita.

On May 30, 2000 I had an appointment at the Yale Sports Center on Long Wharf for a previous shoulder operation. While there, I started having pains in my chest and back. I am also a heart patient. I’ve had three heart surgeries in the past. The Sports Center was aware of my heart problems and they didn’t hesitate to call an ambulance. I went to Yale New Haven Hospital where xrays and CAT scans discovered the cancer in my lymph nodes and lungs.

I’ve just completed six months of chemotherapy. I did not have radiation but my red cell count has been really low. So, I have to go every week for a shot which I received during my chemo to help control my red cell count.

My family has been very supportive and keeps a close eye on me and on my doctors. With the support of my children, my friends and my prayers to God, I have come a long way.

Helen P. Moore, September View My Story »

Helen P. Moore

I am 64 years old and have been married to James for 44 years. We have four children, Troy, Roy, Bernard, and Terras. I work for the Senior Companion Program and like my job a lot because I like to help people.

I had cancer in the year of 1993. I was at work when I got the pain and I called my doctor and he said I must come into the office. I did and he performed a biopsy. He told me to go home. He called to tell me I had cancer the same day.

I am proud to be a survivor for eight years. God brought me this far because I am faithful. I did not have to take radiation or chemotherapy. You know God was my help through my lumpectomy. I am very glad to be able to say that I am doing well now, with the help of my husband and children, my sister, friends and family.

Carolyn M. Mack, October View My Story »

Carolyn M. Mack

I am a resident of Meriden, Connecticut. A mother of one beautiful daughter, Carol A. Mack, and the grandmother of twin grandsons, Stepfan and Shawn. I am employed at Bob’s Stores, Inc. corporate headquarters of Meriden for the last fifteen years. I am a member of Cross Street A.M.E. Zion Church under the pastorship of Rev. Moses L. Harvill and First Lady Eledia Harvill. I am an active member of the Chancellor and Combined Choirs. I am also a missionary.

I found out that I had Cancer when I went for my yearly physical, which includes a mammogram. That is when a lump was discovered in my right breast. An ultrasound was ordered to verify the finding. When it was verified I was devastated.

I always believe in God, in all ways. I also know that I am at high risk of having breast cancer. I know this because my mother had breast cancer and had to have a total mastectomy, with the removal of lymph nodes and muscles at the age of 34 years old. After all this, she survived her ordeal for 30 years or more. I knew in my heart there is hope.

I had to go through surgery and 26 sessions of radiation therapy. With continuous prayers from my Pastor, family, friends and co-workers and with me standing in faith in God, I knew I would recover from my bout with cancer. I am a two and one half-year survivor. The word, cancer, no long scares me, for I am blessed.

Therefore, being blessed, I try to spread the word verbally by phone. Person to person, friend to foe, I want to tell women to Get your mammogram! For those too young to get mammogram, Do your self-examinations! It is very important. That’s what I learned from this experience and by helping with the Tell-a-Friend project with the American Cancer Society.

Lucille L. Mapp, November View My Story »

Lucille L. Mapp

I live in Branford with my husband, Edward. We have two adult children Karen and Kevin Mapp. They live in Roxbury, Massachusetts and Oakland, California, respectively. In January 1995, I discovered a lump close to the areola of my right breast. Hoping I was wrong, I carefully checked again. There was no mistake. Stunned and feeling a chill, I resolved that I would not panic, that I would maintain calm and, finally, that I would not discuss my discovery with anyone until I checked further. I did not want my family or my friends to be frightened or worried about my welfare.

Within a few days, I had a mammogram, which clearly indicated a growth that was about two centimeters in size. After being examined and consulted by my ob-gyn and a highly recommended surgeon, I underwent a stereotactic biopsy. As I had feared, the results were negative. The tumor was malignant and was to be excised by a lumpectomy and axillary node dissection. The diagnosis was adenocarcinoma. At that time, I tearfully advised my husband and children about everything, including my impending operation. Though alarmed and terribly dismayed, they rallied around me, giving me their unending love and support. Relieved, I felt as if a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Fortified by prayer, as well as, my strong belief that God, in His mercy, would guide the surgeon’s hands.

The operation took place on March 10, 1995 at Yale New Haven Hospital wherein a 2.5 centimeter tumor was excised. In addition, ten nodes were removed and all were found to be clear of cancer. Thanks be to God! Soon after, I was referred to the Father Michael J. McGivney Cancer Center at the Hospital of Saint Raphael where I underwent seven weeks of radiation therapy. I had also been prescribed the drug, Tamoxifen, as a preventive measure against any recurrence of malignancy.

I have been cancer free for nearly six years and gratefully give thanks to God for His mercy. I am also proud to be a cancer survivor and, therefore, faithfully maintain a schedule of self-breast exams, bi-annual check ups by my surgeon, and an annual mammogram. Although I contracted Lymphodema (swelling) of my right arm, I consider myself lucky to be alive. Life can indeed be beautiful, and I do stop and smell the roses.

Carolyn A. Sasser, December View My Story »

Carolyn A. Sasser

The year was 1998. Imagine coming home from work and receiving the message on your answering machine that you have cancer. It was supposed to be a normal exam. Finding out that I had breast cancer made me have a loss of words. The only person that I was able to share this, at first, with was my husband, James H. Sasser who is “my rock!” As the mother of three children, two boys and one girl and a wife for the past 34 years, I have learned not to live for tomorrow, but day to day, because one never knows what tomorrow may bring.

I am thankful for the love and support of my family and I give the highest thanks to my God who has helped pull me through this. As a 52-year-old black woman, I knew of breast cancer but did not have a thorough knowledge of this diagnosis. I do not think anyone can quite have an understanding of what it means to have breast cancer, until one actually goes through this ordeal. It is quite an experience that I do not wish on anyone.

I remember waking up after the surgery and I wanted to hear only one thing – that they got it all. Most of all, I knew that I was walking in with my heavenly father and walking out with my heavenly father, for if it was not for Him I would not be here to express my words today.

I have been a survivor of breast cancer for two and one half years. Through my awareness I wish for all women to make sure that they do self breast exams for “only we know our own body,” and have yearly mammogram tests. Put all the faith in the Lord Savior, because he shall make it all right. “Unto thee I fill up my soul!” (Psalms 26).

« Back to Stories of Hope