My name is Cynthia S. Harrison and I am a native of New Haven, Connecticut. I am the proud mother of two beautiful daughters, Sybil & Monica, and God has blessed me with four awesome grandchildren: Jade, Coraz, Miara and Deja. I am a recent college graduate having obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2008. In addition, I have been a faithful disciple for the past 18 years of one of the most dynamic churches this side of heaven, Love Center Deliverance Ministry, located in Hamden, Connecticut, where the Pastors are the renowned Bishop Frankie & Dr. Kim Carmichael. Life was looking good and with all of that going for me one would think that cancer would not be part of my biography, but it just goes to show that cancer has no respect of persons.
My journey began in August 2008. I felt what I thought was a small lump in my right breast. I thought, “I must be imaging this, I better let my daughter Monica see if she feels what I think I feel.” So I asked Monica to feel the area in question and she responded, “Ma, there is nothing there.” Her assurance temporarily put my mind at ease but I continued to check the area and eventually the lump seemed to just disappear, or so I thought. A month later (September 20) while getting dressed to attend a friend’s wedding, I felt the lump again. This time it seemed bigger and there was no mistaking it. Frantically, I ran into Monica’s room telling her to feel the area again and when she did there was no mistaking the look of fear on her face, a look that mirrored the one I wore. She said, “Mom you better call Dr. Wagner (a friend and physician at my church) or Kelly (another friend, breast cancer survivor and founder/CEO of The CHAIN Fund) or a doctor or somebody!” I called the doctor to make an appointment. I did not want to tell my family or friends yet and get everyone all worked up when I had not yet been seen by the doctor.
My doctor’s appointment was scheduled for two weeks later and the hardest thing about waiting was trying not to think the worst. It was a constant battle. During this two-week period I told my Pastors and with their prayers and encouraging words I felt like I was ready and capable of enduring whatever was ahead. I also reminded myself that God was and still is a healer. On the day of my mammogram appointment, I went to the hospital early because I was anxious and nervous. The results of the mammogram were abnormal so the doctors performed an ultrasound followed by a biopsy. After the biopsy was completed I was given a breast cancer information package and told not to worry. I thought to myself, if they didn’t want me to worry they should have kept their package. The following week I went to my follow-up appointment. It was during this appointment that I heard the dreaded words, “I’m sorry Ms. Harrison, but you have breast cancer.” This was, by far, the worst news that anyone had delivered to me. My first thoughts were: this can’t be happening to me, I don’t want to die, and what about my children? Although I appeared calm on the outside, an emotional storm was brewing on the inside of me. I had very good days and I also had very bad days. However, when I came to the realization that I didn’t have to walk this journey alone, that my Savior was with me every step of the way and that my tongue (not that of the doctor) holds the power of life and death, my emotional storm settled and I adopted a positive attitude about my situation.
I was told that my treatments would include a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. In November, I had several appointments and tests to ensure that my body would be able to withstand the treatments. On December 8, I had a lumpectomy. My chemo treatment began a month later. I finished chemotherapy in April 2009. Chemotherapy has some very devastating side effects; it alters your physical appearance, robbing you of the very things that make us women feel beautiful – our weight, our hair, our nails, and our complexion. It tried to take away all the things that made me who I was. But it was a defeated foe because even with a bald-head, dark nails, hands and feet, and 20 lbs. lighter, I’m still a beautiful black woman!
My radiation treatments began on Wednesday, May 27. I had 35 treatments and they ended on July 16. Although my battle with cancer officially ended on July 16, I know that God pronounced the benediction on my ailment before I knew it even existed. I know that I am more than a conqueror and that the enemy tried to throw something evil at me but God caught it and turned it into something good. I received a certificate from the radiation center that states: I am free to continue to live my life to the fullest. And that is what I plan to do!