Archive for the ‘African-American women’ Category

I was 12-years-old and didn’t understand its power

November 9, 2011

Mohammed Adam Jr. is the 19-year-old grandson of Wanda L. Brown, a 7-year triple negative breast cancer survivor and President and Co-founder of Sisters Network Columbus OH, Inc. When Mohammed was 12-years-old, and his grandmother shared the news with family and friends his innocent age hindered him from understanding the toll of events that would later follow. In this school essay written by Mohammed his freshmen year of college, he shares his experience of watching not only his grandmother’s recovery from breast cancer, but Mohammed was very observant of the emotional brokenness that the diagnosis played on his very own mother.  

As a young child growing up, my parents tried to protect me from many situations such as, death, drugs and alcohol.  Disease is one unfortunate thing which is unavoidable.  When I was twelve my grandmother, on my mother’s side, was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Breast cancer has devastated many women and their families all over the world– I never thought that it would grow so close to me.

On a peaceful autumn evening, during early night hours, my grandmother was in her room preparing for a well-deserved relaxation period after a long day.  In the past she had heard many stories of women discovering the tumor themselves through self-examination, while others stumbled across an unfamiliar lump in their bosom.

With thoughts of past women and their stories in mind, my grandmother made the vital decision to exercise her intelligence.  She gave herself an inspection in search of this infamous lump. She unexpectedly discovered it. 

“It can’t be cancer– at least I hope it’s not,” she thought, with a puzzled expression.

She was unmindful to the fact that this lump was a developing army of malignant cells.  Before her doctor’s appointment, my grandmother continued to go through with her regular every day routines as if everything was fine; which in her mind she was.

November 4th during her scheduled appointment with her physician; “Is the lump cancerous or is it something else?” 

The doctor had demanded her wandering attention before breaking the news.  He admitted that, the mountainous thing she discovered in her chest could possibly be cancerous.  But she didn’t give much thought to the potential dangers of the situation at hand; especially since this cellular deformity didn’t exist in our family’s history.  She was more concerned about her Christmas plans and wondered how she would celebrate her upcoming birthday.  A later biopsy confirmed that the tumor was cancerous.

During one of her many mother-daughter conversations that she had with my mom on a regular basis–you know, the ones where they share laughs and stories and also catch up on recent events– she mentioned everything that had occurred, from that shocking autumn evening till present.  She was very demure about the incidents.  But she said it was cancer.  The mood of the conversation abruptly shifted.  Devastated, overwhelmed, shocked– none of these words could truly describe the emotions my mother conjured up from the despicable words:  “I have cancer.”  

Deviating from thinking as the nurse she is, but instead a concerned child, my mother truly believed that cancer meant death.  My mother has cancer– my mother is dying; it was all the same.  This heartbreaking moment, she will remember forever.  Despite feeling as though her heart was ripped out and dispassionately thrown into the never ending abyss, she knew that keeping her composure, staying strong, and being encouraging was best. She had to keep a stone-face and not show her true hurt.

My grandmother organized a family gathering where she broke the news and told everyone that she’d recently been diagnosed with stage two triple-negative breast cancer. All of this she said with a smile. It was as if to assure us that everything would be okay.  Everyone was shocked by the news.  At the time I was twelve, the most I knew about cancer was that it caused tumors and it was a zodiac sign.  I was ignorant to its power.

It was time for surgery.  It was December.  While everyone was thinking about what they would get for Christmas, my grandmother was recovering from a surgery. My mom was more emotionally involved than I was.  In the presence of my grandmother she would be as uplifting as possible, but at home, I witnessed her inner sorrow.

My grandma’s war with breast cancer made her decide that she would participate in spreading the word and explain to women that this illness is one that is non-discriminatory and that anyone can be affected by it.  Educating women, of any ethic background, about breast cancer occupied a large portion of her life.  In 2007 she started the Sister’s Network and became president. 

This disease has produced great turmoil in many families. I’ve learned how not to take life or anything in it for granted because it could be here today and gone tomorrow.  Despite life’s difficulties, you just have to keep moving forward.

Encourage your pre-teenager to give a perspective and join in on this discussion that targets younger-aged caregivers. Was your pre-teen, like Mohammed, oblivious to what cancer really is, or did s/he have more insight on the disease? Comment here or on our Facebook page.

Your Fashion Bug of the week

October 18, 2011

Tyesha Love is one of five vibrant and strong women selected to represent Living Beyond Breast Cancer during Fashion Bug’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month Campaign.  Throughout October the women’s clothing store, with nearly 700 stores across the United States, will support LBBC by donating 100% of proceeds from the sale of a one-of-a-kind inspirational tee and by asking their shoppers to make a contribution by rounding up their purchase to the next whole dollar.

For women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, October is often a month filled with emotion. While every woman expresses their approach to the month differently, Tyesha reminds us of what made her see the light after walking in darkness when she was initially diagnosed with breast cancer.

I was honored to be selected as one of five women to share my story through a Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign sponsored by Fashion Bug. The idea of the five senses became an alluring theme. Each of us have a breast cancer story, of course. But from person to person, our story is a reflection of one ideal sense that created the most appealing significance in our individual journeys. For me, it was my ability to see.

After my stage II breast cancer diagnosis, I was overwhelmed with visions of cancer. I saw my life flashing before me – How could I have taken better care of myself? How would I overcome this diagnosis? Would I see a future with my family? What does this mean for my kids?

I sat in my oncologist’s office staring out of the window which overlooked the Philadelphia skyline. I felt so alone. I watched cars drive by on the expressway and people walking to and from – going to work, going out to lunch, running errands, shopping or heading home to their families. Am I the only one fighting for my life! I pitifully asked myself even though I knew I was not. Desolately, I stood from my bed to look into the mirror and saw a cancer patient – no hair; frail, scared and feeling as if cancer far removed me from the “normal” world.

At home, I could no longer stand to see myself in the mirror – the scars, frailty, and hairlessness. I did not want to see this Tyesha – the Tyesha with cancer. I covered the mirror in my bedroom. I opened the bathroom cabinets so I could not see my reflection when I went to bathe.

Overtime, I had begun to get weary of seeing myself as a lonesome cancer patient and seeing everything around me as cancer related – Tahitian Treat soda resembled the AC treatment, my white terry cloth robe reminded me of doctor visits, daytime television reminded me of being on medical leave from work. I started to slip in and out of depression. I needed to shift the way I saw life and myself.

As I was ready to give up, a dear friend slipped a picture of my kids in front of my moping head and tears soaked eyes.  Seeing the picture of my children gave me the will I could not find elsewhere to fight the disease. It was a reminder of times together; a vision of the future with them and how much we needed one another. The image of my children was what I needed to pick my spirits up. I started to see the beauty in everything again. I saw more green in the trees and more brightness in the sun. I saw bigger smiles in the face of my children and immediate family. I saw hope with each doctor visit. I saw more opportunities to enjoy being in the moment.

After awhile, I uncovered the mirrors and chose to see someone strong and brave; someone that was doing all that was necessary/possible so she could create more memories with her children; see more holidays with them; watch them graduate. I looked at each treatment and surgery as a step closer toward victory over the diagnosis.

Fewer were the moments where I saw myself as a cancer patient and more moments where I saw myself as a survivor. When I see the photos that I took at the Fashion Bug shoot, I see myself. She is healthy. She is laughing. She has a different vision that was heightened through her breast cancer diagnosis. She is me. 

 

I want to see that other survivors and their loved ones will have the impetus to redirect energies of distress and get through a season of cancer with hope and in good spirits, just as I managed to do.

 

Throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Fashion Bug stores will donate 100 percent of proceeds from the sale of an Inspirational Screen Tee to support our educational resource Guide for the Newly Diagnosed and LBBC’s Survivors’ Helpline, a personalized matching service that connects women in similar circumstances in a confidential setting.

You can order online or find a store nearest to you!

Traveling: A simple pleasure

September 7, 2011

This entry was written by Sarita Jordan, an LBBC Helpline volunteer:

Since I was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer in 2005, I have thankfully recovered. But I credit my recovery to my rejuvenated approach to living beyond my diagnosis. 

I recently decided to take a different approach to maintaining my health that has an active role in the management of this disease. I have altered my habits. I have even entered a “biggest loser” makeover contest at my local fitness center. I am eating more fruits and vegetables and have cut a lot of sugar from my diet. I have incorporated an exercise regime as part of my daily routine. I am losing weight, trimming my waist and thighs and feeling energized!

Don’t get me wrong, I still have to see doctors regularly and deal with some minor health issues.  But, I can do so, armed with knowledge that I have chosen to take an active role in my ongoing recovery. To me, taking an active role in my ongoing recovery is a perfect example of LBBC’s mission – to empower women to live as long as possible with the best quality of life. 

Because I remain active as a volunteer at LBBC and attend various LBBC conferences and workshops, I have become full of enthusiasm about dealing with a disease such as breast cancer. I have friends that are like sisters to me that I have met in this journey. These connections give me the opportunity to travel from time to time because I have formed friendships with women from various states: Arkansas, Texas, Maryland, Utah, to name a few.

Recently, I took a mini vacation to Orlando, Florida. I was invited to attend the Era of Hope Conference with a friend who is living with metastatic breast cancer. The Era of Hope Conference is a meeting for advocates to attend to hear the results of studies sponsored by the Department of Defense. My friend was a participant in such studies. Not only was the conference educational, informative and enlightening, I came to the realization that being able to just live in the moment is, by far, the best lesson that the many workshops highlighted.

Besides the meetings, I was able walk the beautiful premises at the Orlando World Center Marriott, smell fresh air, see beautiful flowers and landscaping, feel the HOT sun, swim, slide down a waterslide, eat ice cream, and I could go on and on.  Traveling with friends and spending time with my children is a number one priority in my life.

Next destination?  C4YW in New Orleans, Louisiana in February 2012.

I have learned to enjoy the simple pleasures in life, today, because tomorrow may never come.   Try it. I think you would like it too!

Sarita admits that she enjoys living a life filled with healthy eating and exercise! Are you looking for a new start to living beyond your breast cancer diagnosis that involves better managing your health with nutritious foods and physical activity? On Sept. 15, please consider joining LBBC for our Inspiring Wellness program, a workshop designed for African-American women who are interested in learning more about healthy living.

From Pen to Paper

August 31, 2011

Join Anita for LBBC’s first Writing Series!

Anita Peterkin, who signed up for LBBC’s Fall Writing Series: Writing the Journey, shares a poem that highlights why she decided to participate in the 6-week program that will be facilitated by Alysa Cummings, breast cancer suvivor and Certified Poetry Therapist.

From pen to paper

Transferring my thoughts

Of emotions and feelings    

Which were captured and caught

 

Adjectives, phrases, verbs and nouns

Between pen and paper is where it was found

 

My life, my journey of the ultimate change

Complicated days and nights all so strange

 

From diagnosis to treatment of such a disease

The power of writing has kept my mind at ease

 

Allowing disposal of what was held so deeply within

Releasing powerful energy to let a healing begin

 

When feeling that no one else could possibly understand

I turned to my pen and paper at hand

 

When denial and uncertainty became uncommonly clear

Journaling my thoughts helped to conquer most fears

 

As therapeutic and engaging that my writing has been

It has allowed me to observe this journey as the beginning, not an end

 

Most has been written for me and only by me to be read

But if other eyes shall see, they’ll read what was said

 

From pen to paper 

I have transferred my thoughts

 

Each day awaits the emotions and feelings

That will be profound and beautifully caught

Sign up for Writing the Journey, a writing series for women affected by breast cancer at all stages of diagnosis and recovery today! A one-time fee of $25 will be acessed to your credit card. The first session starts on September 22nd at the Cherry Hill Library in Cherry Hill, NJ. The last day to register is September 10th.

The secret is out

August 15, 2011

This entry was written by Tonya Hackney. Tonya admits that when she first received the news of her breast cancer diagnosis she vowed not to share it with anyone but her close family members. But eventually, she decided to share her diagnosis as a way to heal and in return she experienced true blessings that she never expected.

Everything is ALWAYS in divine order.

I say that because when I was asked to blog on a specific topic for LBBC, it was as if the person who assigned me the blog had just listened to a conversation I had with someone less than twenty-four hours ago. I’m almost two years cancer-free and a dear friend of mine just received a diagnosis of breast cancer. Her name is Adrienne and we’ve been friends since she came upstairs to our apartment and baked cakes on my Easy Bake Oven. We were barely out of diapers and our families have been friends since!

I sat recently with her telling her how I handled my breast cancer diagnosis that November day in 2009. Once I received my diagnosis, I swore my sisters, my dad, and my daughter, Tara, to absolute secrecy! This was a covert operation I commanded they all be a part of because this was MY breast cancer and MY business! My daughter, Tara, complained that she felt she was “lying” to her father whenever they spoke because he kept telling her he knew something was wrong – but out of respect for me and my privacy she denied that anything had changed. At work, I kept leaving early and missing days to keep my appointments. That was unusual because I’m a Nurse and I was known for always working over-time. But my mind was still focused on the MY breast cancer, MY diagnosis and MY business syndrome.

For reasons unknown to me at the time, I felt as if breast cancer was something I “caught” because of careless actions I’d done against God in the past. Because of me thinking that I “deserved” such a punishment, I was ashamed to tell others about my diagnosis in fear that they’d think I deserved it too. Eventually, I got tired of pretending. I felt so much additional stress along with the diagnosis because I was holding it all INSIDE. And you know what I did that day?

I…LET…IT…ALL…GO!

Something inside me FINALLY said “This has nothing to do with what you may or may not have done. This diagnosis just is!” And after opening up about it to others, I started receiving an abundance of blessings!

I received cards with encouraging words. Every one contained checks, gift cards, and cash. I was off work for over a year and to open up a card with a check for $500 from a nurse that I only knew casually brought me to tears! By that time my savings were depleted and to know someone would do that for me without knowing my circumstances gave me hope. It made me realize you never know who is waiting in the wings but I had to share my story to learn this lesson!

Every day during my journey I had visitors, cards, texts and whatever I was able to eat. To know that people were praying for me, to know that my life mattered to others, to know that YOU have touched a life along the way was only made possible by LETTING GO!

Trust me – this is too big to handle on your own. Allow others in and you’ll be surprised how many are willing to share your load! That old hymn goes…“I feel better, so much better, since I laid my burdens down!”

Were you hesitant to share your diagnosis with others? What were some of the reasons why? Comment here or on our Facebook page.

Every cloud has a black and white lining

July 26, 2011

It was a year ago that our corporate sponsor, White House | Black Market, partnered with us for a call-out to honor and highlight 25 inspiring women who are living beyond breast cancer. All 25 women were dolled up for an expense-paid photo shoot and then featured in White House | Black Market’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month catalog.

Wonder how the experience changed the women over the last year? Let’s hear Glynis Rhodes’ story:

From the day I was diagnosed I wanted it to count. I wanted to be an ambassador to the world! It was so important to me that I was able to inform others about the changes in breast cancer treatment and to let people know that the whole person is being treated – not just the cancer! 

I was floored when I received the email that LBBC was looking for survivors to participate in the 2010 White House | Black Market Breast Cancer Awareness Month Campaign.  As I anxiously prepared my entry, I prayed to be accepted.  My family was excited as well and were thrilled as I was when I got the call – You are going to New York!  I was so shocked that I went numb.  I have never been interviewed for national coverage, yet here I am 20 pounds heavier with no hair.  What were they going to do with me?

I guess all they wanted was me.  Being whole again was what I longed for and LBBC and WHBM did exactly that. Together, they made me whole.  I am now known as “the Beautiful Bald One.”  For two years I hid my head under scarves, wigs and hats. Cancer had taken my hair and I believe refuses to give it back.  As I filled out my entry information I prayed to be picked and said “If I am chosen I am taking it all off (just off my head) and will take my pictures bald.” 

Tears of joy streamed down my face as I looked at my photos. It was so powerful and emotional.  I did then and still have trouble believing the beautiful, confident woman in the photograph is me!  From that day on, if the temperature and weather allows, I proudly display my head, no longer feeling like an alien, less-attractive, less-professional, just less-everything.  Being surrounded by the LBBC and White House| Black Market teams and 24 survivors gave me the boost that I needed to feel good and accept my new self.  I am healthy and that is all that matters. Cancer may have taken away my hair and gave me a few more pounds but it only changed me, it did not take my life.  One year later from the photo shoot and I am stronger, more vibrant and just, in a nutshell, happy! 

As the campaign began and the photos and videos were launched the emails and telephone calls were nonstop and I was a star!  I felt it was such a privilege and boy, did I talk.  One of the most enjoyable experiences was being the LBBC Representative on October 7, 2010 in the White House | Black Market store in Wilmington, NC.  I met a lot of people affected by cancer and saw them make purchases with the proceeds going to LBBC.  I received a call from some friends in Las Vegas celebrating their anniversary saying they were pleasantly surprised to see my face in the Venetian Mall.  They went into the store and said “I know the bald lady.”

It has been a wonderful year – full of emotion, happy and sad. We were once 25 strong, now we are only 23 but our love grows. We share everything and keep in touch.  A couple of weeks ago 10 of us celebrated our anniversary together over dinner.  As different as we are, we all have one thing in common, survivorship! It is not just about treatment, survivorship means getting on with your new life, fighting for your rights, holding back your fear and letting it out when necessary. 

I will never be able to thank Jean (LBBC) and Donce Noce (WHBM) for their kindness and thoughtfulness.  Whose idea was it to bring 25 breast cancer survivors together?  I have no idea, but it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.  The past year of my life if proof that every cloud has a silver lining, in this case the lining was white and black.

To hear more about Glynis’ personal journey with breast cancer, visit our website to watch her short video.

The gift of Roses

July 20, 2011

It was a year ago that our corporate sponsor, White House | Black Market, partnered with us for a call-out to honor and highlight 25 inspiring women who are living beyond breast cancer. All 25 women were dolled up for an expense-paid photo shoot and then featured in White House | Black Market’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month catalog.

Wonder how the experience changed the women over the last year? Let’s hear Darlene Shorter’s story:

A year ago I had the experience of a lifetime.  I was chosen along with 24 other ladies to be a part of a group that White House | Black Market called, “the 25 women who inspire us most.” The campaign was an extraordinary way for WHBM to celebrate its 25th anniversary. 

I am a 7-year breast-cancer-free single mother of 3, who are now young adults. The camaraderie of the fellow chosen survivors was unbelievable.  After the beautiful transformation, photo shoot, interview and TV appearance we bonded in a way none of us expected.  We all were glamorous and special for that day. Since that time we have lost 2 of our angels who are now in heaven – Vivian Rivera, our songstress and Lori Baur, our protector. They both will be deeply missed.

Since being a part of this wonderful venture my world has came full circle.  I am a new grandmother to a beautiful baby girl named Liana Rose who has a similar name as my mother, Rosa Lee.  We call her “Leelee.” She’s my pumpkin.  My oldest daughter Candace is her mother. While I was going through breast cancer treatment, she opted to bypass college and help me out. This year not only did she become a mother she also completed her education by becoming a Medical Assistant. 

My second child, aspiring marketing guru, attends Temple University and had the opportunity to join me in New York for the photo shoot and was in such awe of the experience. She did a little networking and is now fulfilling her dream as an intern for WHBM in Fort Myers, Florida. 

And last but not least my handsome baby, Tony, my only son who stood by me through me losing my hair. At 12-years-old, he shaved my head bald. He is now in school getting his barber license. What a blessed and wonderful year this has been. God has so richly blessed me and my family that words cannot express.

Finally, during my interview for the campaign I spoke of my dear mother Rosa who was my inspiration.  My family and I are now starting a foundation called “Rosa’s Gift.” The mission is geared toward helping single parents who have been diagnosed with cancer.  We are hoping to have our kick off in January 2012, seven years from the day of her departure to be with the Lord.

I am excited about everyday and thank all of those that made this opportunity possible.  I love my fellow 24 inspiring women and know that we will be forever a part of each other’s live. 

To hear more about Darlene’s personal journey with breast cancer, visit our website to watch her short video.

My scars no longer make me feel uncomfortable

June 29, 2011

It was a year ago that our corporate sponsor, White House | Black Market, partnered with us for a call-out to honor and highlight 25 inspiring women who are living beyond breast cancer. All 25 women were dolled up for an expense-paid photo shoot and then featured in White House | Black Market’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month catalog.

Wonder how the experience changed the women over the last year? Let’s hear Charron Walker’s story:

I became familiar with Living Beyond Breast Cancer several years ago. I went to a conference they sponsored for young women affected by breast cancer (C4YW). It was a life-changing event. I was able to connect with other young women like me – women with the same struggles, the same fears and the same fight. LBBC had also contacted me in 2009 to participate on the Consumer Advisory Committee for their brochure: Guide to Understanding Insomnia and Fatigue. I was honored to be chosen and to give my input to help others. 

Last May, I received an email from LBBC about an opportunity to participate in a photo shoot for White House | Black Market’s 25th anniversary. WHBM was celebrating 25 unique women who are living beyond breast cancer. I decided to send my photograph and my story. I remember sitting at my computer when I got the call that I was chosen as one of the 25 women. I was at a lost for words. I began to cry tears of joy and disbelief. I could not believe I was selected. I was so thankful for an opportunity to be the face of someone who conquered this disease. 

I never thought that by attending a conference several years ago with LBBC that I would build a solid relationship with an organization that has lasted so many years. I have been able to help women through LBBC that I probably would have never gotten the chance to meet face to face. The chance to be an LBBC Ambassador in the Elle and Self Magazine spread, as well as White House | Black Market’s October Breast Cancer Awareness Month catalog was beyond my expectations. I’m still in awe!

My family and friends were very excited for me. One of my friends at the time, Melissa accompanied me to the WHBM store to get my outfit for the CBS Early Show and another friend, Kim, went with me to the photo shoot. My Pastor, Reverend Steve, called me up to the front of the church the Sunday before the shoot and announced to the congregation that I was modeling now and that I would be featured in two magazines. It was an opportunity of a lifetime. I got so much support from everyone.

The whole experience has made me a better person. I don’t have to look at my scars and feel uncomfortable about my body anymore. My self-esteem has grown by leaps and bounds. I still stare at the pictures that were taken of me with amazement. I have learned from this experience that it does not matter who you are or what you’ve been through, you are beautiful in spite of your circumstances. Beauty comes from within and compliments who you are on the outside. It has also given a boost to my “I can do anything if I put my mind to it” attitude. The only roadblock is myself and the limitations I set. It has also helped me with my program, Young Survivors Network. I am able to tell breast cancer conquerors that your diagnosis is not a death sentence.

I encourage all of you to speak life and walk in your destiny and healing. With God, all things are possible!

white house black market, whbm, living beyond breast cancer, c4yw

To hear more about Charron’s personal journey with breast cancer, visit our website for her short video on being a breast cancer conqueror!

Blessed to see another day

June 20, 2011

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.

 

In case you missed it, a testimony from an attendee of LBBC’s Metastatic Breast Cancer Conference

May 2, 2011

This entry is from Dana Robinson of Bowie, MD. Dana attended LBBC’s Annual Conference for Women Living With Metastatic Breast Cancer. Before the conference, LBBC staff reached out to women for their personal stories and expectations for this year’s conference. During a special segment of the conference, Dana presented her journey to the 200-plus attendees:

I started this journey on February 13, 2002 when I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer at the age of 31.  On this day, my life forever changed. I originally found the lump in my breast over a year earlier. An ultrasound confirmed that I did have a solid lump in my breast. However, because of my age, no family history and the fact that African-American women have high cases of Fibroadenomas (a benign breast lump) – the lump went misdiagnosed.  At that time, I was in a failing marriage with two young boys at home – ages 2 and 10.

My step-father, a prostate cancer survivor, tried to assure me that cancer is NOT a death sentence. I remember him telling me that “time heals a broken heart and trouble doesn’t last always.” I had to stand strong on my faith.  The treatment regimen was tough, but I gained this inner strength that I never knew I had. My renewed faith gave me the will to keep going.  With the support of my family and friends, I was able to work during treatment and try to keep my life as normal as possible. It was very important for me to show my boys how their mommy handled adversity and was able to overcome.

NINE years later, I reflect back on what my dad told me and I see it as the truth. It has not been an easy journey.  I was diagnosed with cancer again in April 2004 – this time Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  Then in November of 2008 I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer to my lungs and bones.  Yet another test of faith and I decided to STAND.

In spring of 2009 I attended my first conference for women LIVING with metastatic breast cancer.  I was thrilled to be amongst other women surviving AND thriving after this diagnosis.  With this group I could discuss my new normal… the ups and downs, treatment options, anxiety, and the fight we all face when we are determined not to lose ourselves by feeling like a full-time patient.  I have learned coping techniques, not just for me, but for my family as well. We learned valuable information on new treatment options and other research advances.  I have always felt that knowledge is power and everything learned here helps me work as a team with my oncologist when making informed decisions regarding my treatment plan.

I have attended the conference each year since and I am very happy to be in attendance again today. Some of my friends who started this journey with me are no longer with us.  I can feel them cheering me on to keep pressing forward.  We know that miracles are small things that happen every day.  Someone has to beat all the odds while fighting this beast we call cancer – why not me? Why not you? 

Through it all, I continue to live by the motto – Live Well, Laugh Freely and Celebrate Much! I am happy to say that my sons are now 19 and 11.  The road gets hard and knocks us down, but the important thing is not letting it keep us down.  We have to brush ourselves off and stand up again.

As the saying goes, “Life isn’t about waiting for the stormto pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain….Well, I have never been much of a dancer. I just don’t have any rhythm – but I have mastered the simple two-step. 

So as we are gathered here today, reuniting with old friends, making new ones, gaining more knowledge and tools to leave here tomorrow feeling motivated and empowered – I invite you to embrace the gift of TODAY with me…shall we dance???

metastatic breast cancer, lbbc annual conference for women living with metastatic breast cancer

Dana (center), thank you for sharing your inspiring story! See you next year!


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