children ages 25, 20, 19 and 16. Like most women, my life has been filled with many blessings and life’s challenges. My most noteworthy challenge occurred in 2008 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 41
After having my 4th child, I decided to have a mammogram for no other reason than I understood that, at my age, it was wise to establish a baseline. Being in the healthcare industry for more than 30 years, I was aware of the importance of preventive care, taking care of my body, especially as an African-American
female. I reviewed materials, attended seminars and listened to other women share how they learned about knowing the signs and symptoms. I took advantage of all the incentives and the benefits of healthcare from a preventive perspective. After all, at that time I thought I was being proactive because I didn’t have
any symptoms or concerns. I didn’t have a family history of breast cancer. I didn’t have any symptoms or signs of lumps, or soreness. The ONLY reason I waited so long for the mammogram was because I had my last child late in age and I wanted to complete breast feeding before I scheduled my appointment in the Mammogram Mobile Van, which was in the parking lot at Aetna, where I work.
The power of denial was my worst enemy. Once I went to the appointment, I checked it off my “to do list” and life resumed as I knew it. Several weeks later, the doctors left several voice messages, but I failed to follow up because I was not expecting a call. I believed I was fine and saw it as a huge weight lifted off my
shoulders, not realizing that my life was about to change. After another week, the hospital notified me by certified mail, instructing me to contact them. I became concerned but thought it was part of the “protocol.” I contacted the doctor, who advised me to come in as they wanted to perform additional tests on my
breasts because of their density. Once the tests were done via further imaging, a biopsy was also performed. The doctors sat me down and gave me the diagnosis – I had breast cancer. The good news was it was contained in my ducts and not my lymph nodes.
While sitting in the doctor office listening to the results, I couldn’t believe what was happening. It was the only time throughout this process where I fell apart and sobbed. I was numb. After hearing I had cancer, I couldn’t remember anything after that. I felt vulnerable and scared – not for me, but for my children. This was the first time I ever had to fight for my life.
I had never thought about what it would be like if I passed away without seeing my children grow up. All I could think about were my children, and how I was going to tell them the news. They were old enough to know life as they knew it would be changing. I realized my role as their mom was to give them assurance that I
was going to be just fine and to let them know that their aunt would be living with us for a while to help out until I was well.
The recommended treatment consisted of surgery to remove the cancer, followed by six weeks of daily radiation, then a recommended hormone therapy, tamoxifen, which I declined for personal reasons. From that moment on, I was processing the unthinkable. I never realized how unprepared I was to deal with
my new norm. Throughout the treatment, I had some good days and some bad. My family and friends all supported me throughout this journey.
I went through the process always thinking about my children and wanted to show them I was strong because of my faith. Often, I found myself in a moment of silence, asking the Lord, “Why.” Looking back, I realized, “Why Not”? After all, God only gave me what He knew I could handle. I realized this was not just my
journey but instead, a testimony of my faith. I learned to seek God and trust Him with my whole heart. I decided to stop asking and just start trusting. During this period, I prayed more than I have ever prayed before. I knew I could not get through this battle without Him.
When reflecting back while writing my story for Sisters’ Journey, it finally hit home – I am cancer free for more than 15 years! “Thank you, Jesus!” I am forever grateful. I realized the major part that occurred fighting this disease was more emotional than physical. I realized that it was a gift from God on how it was
discovered, and the kind of treatment I was given to beat it.
Thank you, Lord, for Sisters’ Journey. I am humbled to be asked to be in their 2023 calendar. The fact that God has considered me for a time so that He can use me as a testimony to His faithfulness and a blessing. I am forever grateful for His love and mercy and understanding the importance of how Sisters’ Journey
is sharing our stories as a source of inspiration that will lift up other women and encourage them.