Sheila Turner

“The Armor of God is a Devine Defense… Put on the whole armor of God”– Ephesians 6:10-18

My name is Sheila Turner and I thought that I would share my story with you!

Breast Cancer. The diagnosis is frightening, even overwhelming, as you struggle to absorb the news and begin to consider your options. Women in their late 30s to 60s often find themselves taking inventory of their lives and adapting to new roles with their families, partners, parents and friends.

My life came to a screeching halt, and suddenly I was forced to prioritize my life all over again. The beginning of January 2007 – a new year, a fresh start – all came crashing down to an abrupt end. This was quite the humbling experience. I am a 47 year old African American who went for her routine physical examination with my new primary care provider. I was ready to get started with the new year, new outlook for 2007. I quit smoking 10 years ago and was ready to shed those unwanted pounds for the summer. I had my one and only child at age 34. She is my pride and joy! I was sent for a routine mammogram and to my surprise there had not been one documented on my records since 2001. I had somehow fallen through the system.

I was anxious and nervous to hear that my last mammogram was six years ago. You see, being a busy single parent, working twelve hour shifts as a nurse in an intensive care unit at a fast paced teaching institution as well as going to graduate school, I was neglectful of my own health. None the less, I was devastated to hear that I was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma (DCIS), which is the most common kind of noninvasive breast cancer. Given the circumstances I was at the highest staging before my cancer would have become invasive.

This was an eye opener for me, my family and my friends. I thank God each and every day for a loving support system in my church family and pastor. Among my many blessings was a knowledgeable team of physicians. My medical oncologist, Dr. Michael DiGiovanna; the radiation team headed by Dr. JoAnne Weidhaas at the Yale Cancer Center; and last but not least, a special “thank you” to the surgical team at the Surgical Associates under the guidance of Dr. Paul Barcewicz.

I endured through faith two surgeries in the month of March 2007 for the equivalent of a partial mastectomy, followed by five weeks of radiation therapy, while trying to makeup my school hours during the summer. I’m currently taking the oral medication Tamoxifen as a preventive agent for further reducing my risk of cancer in the future. After having genetic testing my BRCA I and BRCA 2 genetic markers indicated that there are no familial traits for breast cancer.

For now my precious thirteen-year-old daughter has been spared. My mission statement and my purpose in life is to educate women to acknowledge the existence of a disease process that is attacking my sisters and to maintain a state of well being.


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