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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, 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

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