Shirley Lawrence


diagnosed with breast cancer. I found my lump while doing a regular self-exam around July 25, 2019. Although the lump was bigger than what I normally feel, I thought it was another cyst. I didn’t freak out because my regular mammogram was scheduled for July 30, 2019. When I received the report, it confirmed the different size lump.

I went back a couple of days later for a biopsy and then received the call on a Saturday afternoon while I was driving alone, “Your test came back positive for breast cancer.” I just went numb. I asked the doctor was she sure. “Could it possibly be a mistake?” Her response was yes, she was sure! No, it was not a mistake. As my brain slowly seeped into numbness, I pulled my car over on the side of the road. My first thought was how was I going to look after my mom who has Alzheimer’s? A few minutes later the Holy Spirit came upon me so quickly and said you have a choice – to worry about your mom who’s fully protected by God or concentrate on how you’re going to fight for your life.

Imagine this. I was always passing out self breast exam shower hangers at cookouts, baby showers, etc. After about a month with GOD by my side, my son John and daughter Aishah and I walked into the hardest meeting/chapter of my life. My mind was zoning in and out trying to comprehend mentally at a snail’s pace, “You have triple negative breast cancer,” which is one of the most aggressive breast cancers among African-American women. I thank GOD everyday for my children, because the questions I didn’t know to  ask, they asked, and what I couldn’t remember, they remembered.

There are not enough words in me that can explain entirely the walk/sickness that I endured. My treatment plan was several months of chemotherapy, which had to be stopped abruptly because I developed a blood clot in my leg. This in turn meant I had to schedule my surgery sooner; however, by the time I went for surgery at the end of January, the lump had disappeared. GOD was doing his thing. I still had to have the surgery though to make sure it was gone and didn’t metastasize. I was blessed to have a choice to make and I opted for a lumpectomy followed by six straight weeks of radiation.

My emotions were all over the place. I never missed one appointment and by the grace of GOD, I worked full-time the whole time. Eileen Williams-Esdaile invited me to my first Sisters’ Journey meeting. What a blessing! I walked in scared and unsure, not knowing fully what to expect. It turned out to be a group of extraordinary phenomenal women who were survivors and real supporters.

Then I saw Dawn White-Bracey, a high school friend and now President of Sisters’ Journey, who is continuing her mother’s legacy. This helped my nerves to calm down. I listened to a group of extraordinarily strong women survivors share parts of their journey. Whether it was 30 years or three months, they all assured me I would get through this, and promised to be there for me. I left with phone numbers and contact information and love that gave me the strength to start my walk to fight for my life. Thank you, Sisters’ Journey.

I also want to thank my Smilow team that was put together specifically for my treatment – my breast cancer surgeon, Dr. Anees Chagpar; my oncologist, Dr Erin Hofstatter; Christine Tordonoto, RN; Lynnanne Selezan, RN; Susan Beno, LCSW; Gineesha Abraham, APRN; and my family & friends that were able to come – John, Aishah, Kashonda, Markeese, Necye, Karissa; my best friends Dorothea Jaynes (DeeDee), Stephanie Petaway-Hickson, Mrs. Diane Petaway; my Immanuel Baptist Church family; my prayer partner and sister in Christ, Pamela Y. Campbell; Father Elko and the parishioners at St.Martins de Porres; and                              Shirley Warren-Moore (RIP).


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