Wednesday, October 18, 2017

‘I’m a survivor’

October 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Feature

BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time to focus on a deadly but detectable disease that affects many women and even some men. According to the website Cancer Facts and Figures for African Americans, Black women have a 6% lower risk of cancer diagnosis than white women — but a 14% higher risk of cancer death. Notably, despite lower incidence rates for breast and uterine cancers, black women have death rates for these cancers that are 42% and 92% higher respectively, than white women.

These issues are recognized to largely reflect socioeconomic disparities associated with race. Some research suggests that Blacks who receive cancer treatments and medical care similar to that of whites experience similar outcomes; other studies report that racial disparities persist even after accounting for socioeconomic factors and access to care.

Las Vegas Black Image Magazine asked some breast cancer survivors to share their stories.

Donnedia Edmond

Donnedia Edmond

I am a stage 4 breast and liver metastatic cancer patient. I cried for two months straight after receiving my cancer diagnosis. Once I looked in the mirror I begged God to make me mentally strong and I asked him for guidance.

I enrolled in a cancer center and was greeted with so much love, self-assurance, and positivity. I knew with these interactions I had the capacity to get through whatever God had for me. My survival has been ongoing. I’m still under doctor’s care and I have done two bags of chemotherapy weekly. One bag is for my breast cancer and the other is for the cancer in my liver. This was done once a week for 11 1􀂻2 months, and then I did radiation by a balloon. A balloon was inserted in my breast and I did radiation twice a day for three weeks. Following that I had a lumpectomy, more chemo, and then plastic surgery.

I am not done yet, but I’m here. I have no hair, eyebrows, or eyelashes. Permanent damage is done, but I’m a survivor and I appreciate this opportunity to share my story.

Rhayne Thomas

Rhayne Thomas

Mentally, I first dealt with my breast cancer diagnosis with 48 hours of disbelief. After that, my faith took over and instantly I just knew it was a part of my journey and I was going to be victorious. I survived my diagnosis with prayer, faith and my strong sense of humor.

Donna Rachelle Curry-Simon

I have been “cancer free” for seventeen years. I will start by saying that it has taken a lot of prayer. I won’t say it has been easy — but I am determined to look for the good in my journey.

Donna Rachelle Curry-Simon

I remember hearing the words, “I’m sorry, but you have cancer.” Those words still make me numb. It’s like watching your life on a movie screen. However, I choose to have a “happy” ending. I make daily conscious decisions to be happy, laugh at myself, smile, hug and kiss my loved ones. Experiencing the whirlwind of emotions — from fear, loneliness, anger, devastation, and depression — I had many pity-parties and even thoughts of suicide.

Another difficult thing is waiting between exams and tests to receive results — that was really hard to bear. I just really learned to pray and to trust God. I started to write in a journal about my journey, copying scriptures and praying them back to God as it related to his promises. His promise to never leave me, to heal me and supply me with all my needs — it helped get me through. It gave me the strength, and I would go on long walks when I had the energy. I remember looking at the sky and listening to the birds chirp. A new awareness and gratefulness evolved. I would often wondered why it took a cancer diagnosis to make me slow down and smell the roses.

I have been blessed with four children — and at the time my youngest was still in diapers, and he had the prettiest eyes. Watching him get into things made me laugh, and looking at my children’s faces gave me hope.

I remember going through all of my videotapes and pulling out the one that made me laugh. I created a stack and watched them one-by-one while eating popcorn and laughed as much as I could. Laughter releases endorphins and Wikipedia defines the principal function of endorphins is to inhibit the transmission of pain signals.

They may also produce a feeling of euphoria that is very similar to that produced by other opioids.

I love reading, and I picked up books and stayed with titles on healing or laughter.

At this time in my life, I am on a mission not to be just a survivor, but rather one who thrives. One that propels and flourishes from her experiences. A very good friend inspired this state of mind.

Nicole Walker-Wells

Nicole Walker-Wells

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, the grace of God gave me peace — and reminded me that it was not my battle but the Lord’s battle. I survived with God and my family and friends by my side.

Terri Yates

Terri Yates

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer I was 42 years of age. I had a  three-day pity party, and then I decided I’m not ready to die. So, I became my own advocate and I fought. When the cancer returned at age 45 I said to myself, “I got through it once, I’ll get through it again.” I set short-term goals — a bucket list — and once I achieved one, I started working on another one. It was very important to have something to look forward to.

I still live with breast cancer every day, because you never know if it is going to return — but the important thing is to keep a positive attitude, and live your life to the fullest. I also became a breast cancer advocate to help other sisters through this disease.

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