This entry was written by Dana Dukes of Philadelphia. Dana is living WELL with metastatic breast cancer:
Each day that I awake I give thanks to God for allowing me to see yet another day on this earth and to be in good health to accomplish what I need for the day. December 30, 2008 was the date that changed the course of my life and the lives of my three children Eric, Janiya, and Juwan. I was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer.
Janiya is the middle child and I always think more of her because she is my only daughter. I can’t help but to think that she may inherit breast cancer from me; but I pray, and have great faith that she would be spared from breast cancer.
Janiya was in the tenth grade when I was diagnosed, and she felt upset at my announcement of my having breast cancer. She really didn’t know what to expect, but she knew she wanted me to be around for a long time so that I could be part of her and her brother’s lives and not miss important milestones.
The first milestone after the news was my oldest son graduating high school after learning of my condition only six months prior. Eric was able to move forward, graduate, and go on to college. My youngest son Juwan graduated from eighth grade and started high school – not missing a beat. But, Janiya was just in the middle of her tenth-grade-year. I could only imagine that all three of them worried about me. That alone, plus the weight of school work must have been difficult for them.
Senior year was extra for Janiya since my health got a little bit more taxing and I had to leave work on disability for the time being. That means I needed more help with the house work, and personal help too. Janiya like every other typical teenager didn’t like the direction life was taking but she adjusted as best she could and fell right into place. Janiya was always there to make time to help me even though she had to concentrate on graduating, fill out college applications, shop for a dress for the prom, and a work a part-time job at the mall. That could be too much for any teenager to bear – and on top of that – add on a sickly mother.
The first obstacle that she had to overcome was her senior prom. I didn’t have a lot of money to finance it but with help from friends and family we made it through. She was going back and forth on whether to take a date or go alone. She even questioned whether or not she wanted to even go. Janiya had a nonchalant attitude about everything from her clothes to hair and makeup. A few times I just wanted to throw up my hands and walk away! But because she’s my baby girl who deserves to be a princess, I just couldn’t. We finally got it all together for the prom and she was the princess that she deserved to be. By the grace of God it turned out to be a great day.
Janiya was such a help to me that she included me as part of her community service project that she had to complete in order to graduate. She helped me more around the house, during my travels, and she came with me to my doctor’s appointments. She was given college credit for what she already does and that was a double blessing for the both of us.
On June 13th, Janiya graduated from Lamberton High School. I think I was more excited and nervous than Janiya was. She was cool, calm, relieved, and happy all at the same time. She was happy that God had favor on our lives and that I was healthy enough to be there and witness her graduation. Since my diagnosis, this is my second child to graduate from high school. I have one more left to graduate and I’m praying and having great faith that I will be here see my son Juwan graduate in 2013.
I felt so blessed and proud to see my only daughter make it to go through to the next phase of her life. She will attending Community College of Philadelphia in the fall of this year. She said she made that decision because she’s undecided on what route she wants to take and feels that this would give her time to make up her mind. Personally, I think she’s being cautious and wants to stay home, close to me. I am so proud of my daughter and I admire the strength. She had included me in her plans for whatever she decides to do in the future. In other words, that’s her cue to encourage me to keep praying, praising, and having great faith that I will continue to be a Warrior Survivor.
What milestones have you been blessed enough to see despite your breast cancer diagnosis? Do you, like Dana, have a greater appreciation for such milestones? Comment here or on our Facebook page. If you are living with metastatic breast cancer, be sure to register for our upcoming teleconference: Metastatic Breast Cancer: Facing Feelings and Fears.