When I decided to join the cast I knew that it meant that I had to expose some very dark personal issues that I struggle with. One is that I have the propensity to completely block out hurtful things from of my mind as a coping mechanism. When my OB/GYN first discovered a lump in my breast during my annual exam, she directed me to get a mammogram. That’s when things turned for the worst. I did as she advised but my experience was so unpleasant that I never told any one or ever called back for the results. No woman wants to be told they could possibly have cancer. I thought the worst and took inventory of my life. Did I have my personal affairs in order? What if I couldn’t be treated? Would I have to undergo chemotherapy? Have a mastectomy? Lose all my hair? All these questions flooded my mind. The fact was and is I could possibly die from cancer.
I lost both of my grandfathers to aggressive cancers, and two very young friends under the age of 30 (Keith and Michelle may you rest in peace) whom I was very close to. I watched them all fight for their lives and dwindle down to mere skin and bones. I would never wish cancer on my worst enemy. No one deserves to suffer or die that way. It wasn’t until my Aunt Lori found out and compelled me to return for further testing. She researched and found the BEST doctor that anyone in my position could have ever had. When I first spoke to Dr. April Speed (draprilspeed.com) she was so generous with her time, knowledge about breast cancer, and the procedure that she made me feel extremely comfortable. Notwithstanding her calming bedside manner as she spoke in a soft but confident voice that immediately soothed my nerves. I shared with her my trepidation about the process being filmed and being in such a vulnerable position on TV in front of millions. She encouraged me to be brave, noting that if we could save just one life at the end of the day, it would be reward enough. It was clear then that I didn’t have a choice.
Dr. Speed found not one but three separate lumps and they all required a biopsy. My aunt promised to be by my side every step of the way, and she was. I don’t think I could have done it without her. Dr. Speed assured me that I wouldn’t be in a lot of pain. The procedure wasn’t necessarily painful inasmuch as it was uncomfortable. I prayed to God for favorable results while I lay on the exam table. I wholeheartedly believe I am a blessed child. I’ve defied the odds and prevailed through unspeakable circumstances throughout my life. I thought if I have cancer, I can beat it too with the will of God.
My family’s prayers worked when my doctor announced that my lumps were benign. Although I am still at risk, we now have the knowledge to stay ahead of the disease. I want to personally thank Dr. April Speed and her amazing staff for treating me with the utmost care and most dignified way possible. I realize that I have to live a less stressful life and not let people affect me the way they have. At the end of the day a person who calls you unspeakable names to hurt you, someone who intentionally maligns you out of spite; a man who tries to tear you down or break you to gain negative fame or attention for himself; or my incessant worrying about my future matters not if I don’t have a life to live at all. My family and friends are the only variables in my life that will ever matter moving forward. I was disappointed when none of my cast mates reached out to me after learning of my ordeal when many viewers did. Whether or not I am your favorite or least favorite person, the bond that we all have is that we are women first. I’m a woman before I am any other identifying marker such as race, social status, popularity, occupation, or religious background. I am a woman. I am a child of God and I am blessed. With that said, I beg all women to get a mammogram. If you get a call back, GO BACK. BE BRAVE. Early detection is the key to survival. And do a self-breast examination that can be found at http://on.aol.com/video/how-to-perform-breast-self-exam-286302892. Thank you for allowing me to share my experience with you.
Breast Cancer Generalized
• An estimated 250,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually
• Only a small number of new cases have a genetic link (5%) or family history (10-15%)
• 40,000 will die from their disease
Breast Cancer in Black Women
• Although the incidence of breast cancer is higher among white women, black women are more likely to die from their disease
• Death rate is 41% higher in black women
• Black women are three times more likely to have triple negative breast cancer, which makes it more challenging to treat. (More aggressive, poorer prognosis, higher recurrence and reduced survival)
• Black women have the lowest survival rate of all races
• Awareness has been the focus for 20 years, now it's time to move toward action!
• Breast cancer typically produces little to no symptoms when detected early, that's why Mammograms are so important, get them starting at age 40 or sooner if there is a family history
• If you get a call back, make sure your follow up; "Early detection means better protection"Behavior
• No magic diet to prevent breast cancer but maintain a healthy weight, elevated BMI (over 25) is associated with an increased breast cancer
• Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables (5 or more servings)
• Have a meatless Monday and a Wine-less Wednesday, moderation is key
• Exercise, Exercise, Exercise! Research suggests that 30-45 minutes per day or 10 minutes several times a day can reduce risk of breast cancer.
I’m thrilled to know that my forthcoming workout video could actually help to save lives and possibly reduce the risk of breast cancer. You never know what His plan is, but what I know is that I cannot question it.
With love and hope,