My mother died from breast cancer at the age of thirty four, so I knew my sister or I would inherit the “Big C”, but I never thought it would be me. In October 2000, I found a lump while doing a monthly breast self-exam. I was thirty-two years old and just finished graduate school. I thought I had my whole life ahead of me. In a matter of days, everything changed. I remember thinking “I’ve been given a death sentence.”
Emotionally, I went up and down from panic to the elated feeling that I would beat the disease and then back to fear and despair. I had a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and hormone therapy. Ronnie, my boyfriend at the time was also my caregiver and one of many in my support system. Mrs. Ethel, my manager at the time, was a breast cancer conqueror and a Christian, which was a double blessing. She accompanied me to my appointments, prayed with me and was a comfort. My family lived in New York, so God gave me an extended family in Florida. God had it all planned out. He was the light in my darkness. My family came down to visit. They kept me in prayer and were supportive.
All the thoughts running through my mind resulted in sleepless nights and when I did finally sleep, I was plagued with nightmares. My doctor put me on medication for depression which helped me sleep. Thinking back on some of those nights, I remember while lying on my bed, I prayed for God to take me home to be with my mom because I didn’t have the strength to go on. But, God got me through those dark times. I began seeing a therapist and in 2006 I started a support program specifically for younger women.
October 19th I will be 16 years cancer free. I don’t have to look at my scars and feel uncomfortable about my body anymore. I have learned that it doesn't matter who you are or what you’ve been through, you are beautiful in spite of your circumstances.