I believe that having faith in God, self-awareness and early detection are the keys to surviving any illness.
I’m not sure if I saw something on TV or read something in a book, but for some reason I’ve always known to check my breasts. My story actually goes back to when I was about 10 years old and felt a lump in my left breast (chest then). I told my mother and she said I was growing. By the time I turned 14 I had to have a lumpectomy, which thank God turned out to be benign. I had other lumps in my breasts, so I continued to check them as did my doctors.
I was about 29 years old and was giving myself an exam when I noticed that one of my lumps felt a little different. So, I made an appointment for a mammogram. On the day of my appointment (at CHCP), some rude nurse (wish I had gotten her name) told me I was too young to get a mammogram appointment and that I needed a doctor’s referral. I tried to explain that I had a lump that had changed and needed to be checked. We went back and forth for awhile and then I left. I was so upset that I did not call my doctor for the referral.
About a year and a half later (January 1995), I noticed that my lump had changed and I also had a lump under my arm. At that point I knew in my heart that I had breast cancer. I made an appointment with my doctor, who referred me to a surgeon. I received my diagnosis on February 8th. I cried for about five minutes after the doctor said those words, “YOU HAVE BREAST CANCER!” Then all of a sudden I felt GOD wrap his arms around my body and GOD said to me, “YOU ARE GOING TO LIVE!”
At that point I stopped crying and started taking care of business. I had a full mastectomy and reconstruction surgery on February 28, 1995 and endured six months of chemo. I did not go through it alone; my children and my husband took great care of me; my daughter Alisha (12 years old at the time) and William (5 years old at the time) were and still are the best children anyone could ever pray for. I also received lots of support from my family and friends – the Gomes/ Ammons; the Pritchett’s/Walkers; William Barnes Jr. and family; the Caldwell/Draughns; the Atkins; the Fischer-Browns; the Willises; the
Jacksons; the Sewells; and of course all of my doctors. I had (and still have) such a huge support system that I hope I did not miss anyone. I also have to thank my newest supporter who helps me to stay on the right path of eating healthy and exercising. You all will always play a big part in my life.
As I sit here and write my biography, my dad is battling prostate cancer and my mom is battling breast cancer for the second time. Once this calendar is released in 2010, with the Grace of God, I pray that my parents will be alright and I will be a 15-year survivor.
I also would like to offer these words of wisdom to women everywhere: If you feel a lump or have any other health issues that are questionable… please follow through. DO NOT wait until it’s too late. Please, please, take action. It could mean your life! God Bless Us All!
(Note: Regrettably, Yvonne’s father lost his courageous battle with prostate cancer prior to our calendar going to press. He has now transitioned to his final resting place. May he rest in peace.)