Celebrating Life…My Story…

EXACTLY 5 years ago today and almost to the time of this post, I received a call from my GYN who gave me the results of the biopsy I’d had done two days prior, which confirmed breast cancer.  Oddly, I was not shocked by the results as the night before an odd; yet serene calm came over me and I resigned myself to the news; though untold yet, of the diagnosis.

I was at work when I received the call, which came with precise and detailed information as to what I needed to do once I “got over the shock of the call and to call me if I needed anything or had any questions”.  I hung up, took a deep breath, and did a quick google search on the type and stage of the cancer and then went in search of a friend and former coworker who’d been diagnosed with colon cancer the year prior.  I said nothing to her other than “let’s go to a more private cube so we can talk”, she obliged with a curious expression.  While at the more private workstation, I typed in my diagnosis and sat her in the seat so she could read the words on the screen.  Her facial expression went from 0-60 and she turned to me with tear-filled eyes and said, “no.  That can’t be true.  You’re one of the healthiest people I know”.  I said nothing and simply nodded the confirmation.  She got up and hugged me so tight and upon releasing me said, “we’re gonna get through this!”  Those were the MOST comforting thing she could have said to me….”we’re”.  She included herself and at that moment I knew I’d made the right decision in telling her before anyone else.  She dragged her then fiancee from  his desk and we all went outside to share the news with him.  We all hugged!  We all cried!  And then we all vowed to see me through the process.  The necessary calls were made to schedule appointments.  The call from the Imaging office came shortly after the call from the GYN, but they would not provide the full results over the phone.  I knew that was there protocol and was happy for the my GYN not abiding to that practice as it spared me the additional wait and worry. 

From that point on, Marlene was a part of my initial appointments, she sat with me as I researched every option available at the time and assured me that I was going to come through it all “just fine”…Five years, a right breast mastectomy, a series of tissue expansions, and five reconstructive procedures laters, I AM , “just fine”.  The medicine wreaked havoc on me mentally, physically, and emotionally, but with support of Marlene, trusted friends/family, and Gilda’s Club of South Jersey; of which I’m featured in their ad campaign.  Gilda’s Club of South Jersey TV ad I’ve come through the crazy journey.  I’ve always had a pretty decent outlook on life and tend not to take it for granted, but after having my mortality put on the line for a second time, I live it a bit more aggressively now.  I avoid the bullshit and drama as much as possible.  I’ve removed toxic people from my life.  I’ve grown that much closer to God as He’s been the epicenter of my strength.  I’ve become a better person, mother, friend, mentor, role model, or whatever title I wear.  I’m even more of a health advocate than before and take nothing for granted.  I’ve seen many people suffer and lose their lives to cancer and pray that one day cures will be available for not just Breast Cancer, but ALL cancers. While some may be more aggressive than others, it’s all still cancer and that’s something no one should take lightly.

In closing, I’ll ask you all for one thing…PLEASE get yourselves checked, screened, and ask family members to share medical history.  Prior to my diagnosis, I had NO idea cancer was in my bloodline.  I underwent genetic testing to find out if I was a gene carrier.  Fortunately, I am not, but it was a scary wait to find out.  Lil Lady was 15 at the time of my diagnosis, so there was a great need to know if not only was I a carrier, but to get a full medical history of both sides of my family.  Cancer runs on my father’s side and it was sad that I had to go through the process in order to find out.  Since then, I’ve shared my history, and dad’s with my siblings and other paternal family members.  One member has compiled a health registry so we have data available to share with each other.  Nothing, not matter how presumably healthy we might think we are is promised.  If you have health insurance, use it.  The time off work, the copay and a negative test result far outweighs the laziness of not seeing a doctor or the denial by thinking there’s nothing wrong.

I hope my story inspires someone to get checked or makes you take someone who may need to get a health screening to the doctor.  There’s no coming back from death, but there’s living  and treatment if necessary in knowing what your health status is.

Of all the 14 tattoos I have, my pink ribbon is the most visible.  I wear to show that I’m proud of overcoming breast cancer and also to let others know there’s nothing to be ashamed of.  I’m going to add some verbiage to it very soon now that I’ve hit the 5-year mark.  Any suggestions other than “Survivor” as to what I should say?  Whomever gives me the best idea, will be publically thanked and rewarded in some way.  And if by chance I don’t use a suggestion, just knowing you all were a part of it, will make me very happy.

That is all!

10 thoughts on “Celebrating Life…My Story…

  1. Those were the MOST comforting thing she could have said to me….”we’re”.

    Isn’t that the truth. One of the things not initially realized is that when a loved one undergoes setback, it’s not only experienced by the persons themselves, but others just as affected.

    You speak the truth about the importance in getting screened in order to stand a chance against cancer. My older cousin is also a cancer survivor and the object of much inspiration within our family.

    “Survivor” fits, perfectly.

    • Health is something that affects many and it’s important to surround yourself with the right people in order to get through the tough times. Marlene’s initial words of comfort and support were the foundation of my strength to deal with it all. I thanked her with full grattitude this morning.

      My best wishes go to your cousin and may her health continue to be good.

      Thanks for your input 🙂

  2. hey you… thanks for sharing this. i love you & i’m sooo glad you’re a survivor cause my world wouldn’t be nearly as beautiful without you in it. i think your tattoo should say: WonderWoman or SuperStar… something along those lines. i know i might be a tad bit biased; but so the fuck what?!! LOL

    • I loooooooooooove you too kinster. Aww! you tryna make me cry this afternoon. I like SuperStar; especially since I’m in the commercial…hehe! You can be as biased as you damn well please 😉

  3. Our health should always come first. I’m glad to hear you’re undefeated where cancer is concerned.

    I go get year physicals, because I don’t like surprises. Those physicals aren’t pleasant, but how many things in life really and truly are?!?

    I agree we all need to take better care of ourselves and it’s great that you wrote this post. Hopefully someone who reads it will be inspired to go get checked out, when maybe they wouldn’t have.

    Nice post.

    • Hey Reggie…I’m happy to hear that in spite of the lack of pleasantry associated with most physicals/checkups that you do it anyway. You are an example of what I’m talking about in regards to being proactive and not leaving things to chance.

      I, too, hope that my testimony will inspire others to be proactive about their health. What I didn’t say in my story is that when I went to the GYN it was completely unrelated to my breast. I was having abdominal pain and I employed my 3-day rule of any pain/symptoms that last more than 3 days, I go to the doctor. He had moved offices and didn’t even have my chart. He made that visit my annual and did the appropriate tests/checks for the visit and suggested I get my baseline mamo since I was turning 40 in the fall – the visit was in May. Had I not gone to the dr and had he not been proactive in my just getting the mamo early, I would not have been diagnosed until at least 5 months later and things could have been more servere. Early detection truly means earlier cure/treatment.

      So many of us have insurance and don’t take advantage of it; meanwhile there are many without it and are in dire need of check ups etc. We need to get our priorities in order. As I’ve said to many, we spend more time/money getting our cars maintained than we do on ourselves/health. Cars can be replaced; lives cannot!

  4. Thanks for sharing this Sis! I loved the testimony and your will to remove all toxic relationships and drama from your life. Now it’s time for you to “live your life”! And continue to share!

    • Soul Sista! I’m always warmed by your support and encouragement. I had toxicity (people/issues) be a part of my life for too long and when it entered my body in the form of Cancer, I knew then more than ever that it had to go. I’m happy to have rid myself of both forms of toxicity and I do my best to live my life. Love to live; live to love!

Comments are closed.