Grateful for My Breast Cancer Mentor

I will never forget February 8, 2008.   The date of my breast cancer diagnosis.  I immediately went back to 1988.  Remembering, the eight weeks I was a caregiver to my sister-in-law who had breast cancer and died quietly in our spare bedroom.   Caring for her was a gratifying experience, but it was painful and heartbreaking to watch a loved one slowly departing this life.  On February 8, 2008, I saw myself going down the same path.

But several days after the diagnosis this wonderful woman, who is a breast cancer survivor, entered my life.  She was the founder and president of a newly formed organization, Sisters Network, Inc., – Milwaukee Affiliate.   An organization dedicated to providing supportive, educational, and advocacy outreach services to increase breast cancer awareness for African-American women in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and surrounding areas.

At the time, she was employed as a full-time nursing instructor and simultaneously implementing this new and innovative non-profit organization.  Yet, she found the time to lend individual support to a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient. 

My Breast Cancer Mentor was there or within reach as I went through a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation.   Utilizing the information and tips she provided, I navigated through the treatments with little or no distress.

For the past five plus years, I have watched my Breast Cancer Mentor build a strong organization.  One that is well respected throughout the city and surrounding areas known for providing survivors, caregivers, and others with a broad range of programs, events, and activities designed to increase breast cancer awareness.

Because of the long-relationship with my Breast Cancer Mentor and the other survivors at Sisters Network, Inc., I have been able to make the transition from:

  • being a Victim – I lived in fear of the “unknown.” Always seeking an answer to the question, “breast cancer, Why Me?”  
  • to living as a Warrior – I will not let breast cancer define who I am.  I live in the present moment expressing and demonstrating gratitude, daily, for the wonderful Gift of Life.

As my Cancerversary date grows closer, I wanted to honor and express heartfelt love and appreciation to my Breast Cancer Mentor, she continues to:

  • inspire me to look beyond my condition;
  • uplift me spiritually (a praying woman)’
  • educate me on the positive benefits of mindfulness, wellness, and spirituality.

Thank you, Phyllis Holder, for all you have done, all you continue to do, and all I know you will continue to do in your untiring effort to promote breast cancer awareness for the under diagnosed and undertreated population in the Milwaukee community.

My Mentor – Cancer Retreat

photo

Cancer Help Program-The New School of Commonweal

My Mentor – Top Row and Center

photo

NAACP Young Professionals Adult – Fundraiser:  A Tribute to Services Provided by Sisters Network to the Community

A GRATEFUL FIVE-YEAR BREAST CANCER SURVIVOR – PART 2

 INTRODUCTION

I designated October as the month to read everything MY 70-year-old brain could absorb on Breast CancerAlso, the goal was to write a four-part series about MY five-year journey as a Survivor.   

Relying on Google searches, I visited Breast Cancer:

  • Organizations
  • Personal Blogs
  • Support Groups Online
  • Support Groups for Family
  • Forums and Discussion Groups

But, before I could finish Part 2 of the series, a bout of bronchitis entered MY space and gained control.  For almost three weeks, I was totally out of commission.   But thanks to an excellent primary care physician, nebulizer inhalations, antibiotics, and cough medicine; I am bronchitis-free, feeling great, and ready to complete what I started.

###########

PART 2 – SURVIVING AND OVERCOMING BREAST CANCER

In the beginning of my Breast Cancer journey, I was frustrated, depressed, anxious, fearful and just plain angry.

Without warning, this “unwelcome” and “unfamiliar” condition, Breast Cancer, invaded MY body and changed MY life.  There were so many unanswered questions about life expectancy, diagnosis, radiation, and chemotherapy.

Did I really want answers?  No, denial and rejection of any topic related to Breast Cancer served as MY safety net I chose to make Assumptions rather than face Reality.

Assumptions:

  • MY Five Year Survival Rate for Stage 1 Breast Cancer was 97%.
  • Stage 1 Breast Cancer was serious but not life threatening. 
  • After five years, Breast Cancer was no longer a risk.

Sadly, for more than five years, I relied on these Assumptions.

But I was left with no choice but to face Reality as I prepared to write this four-part series on Breast Cancer.  After reading a number of blogs written by Breast Cancer survivors and caregivers as well as visiting different Breast Cancer organization websites, I confronted —

Reality

  • American Cancer SocietyThe five year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live after their cancer is found.  Of course, many people live much longer than five years.”
  • Oncology Practice, Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer:  A Global Patient Survey – “Worldwide, one-third of patients who present with early-stage breast cancer will go on to develop metastatic disease.”

Now, I must face the Reality that MY

  • 98% five-year survival rate has ended; and
  • despite an early diagnosis of Stage 1 Breast Cancer, I may be among the one-third who develops metastatic Stage 4 Breast Cancer.

As I continue down the path of this Breast Cancer journey, I will strive to improve the quality of MY life, on a daily basis, through:

  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Pacing
  • Distractions
  • Sleep Health
  • Diet and Nutrition
  • Massage Therapy
  • Aromatherapy
  • Spiritual Growth

I plan to put forth an extra effort to remain optimistic and stay positive in preparing to write Part 3 of this series on metastatic Stage 4 Breast Cancer.    It’s a topic that I fear but I no longer will rely on Assumptions to avoid Reality.

Expressing Gratitude for the positive changes in my life after Breast Cancer.  Everything happens in accordance with God’s Plan.  

00000000000000067046

Also, Appreciation and Thanks to Amanda, Living in Another Language, for creating the new blog design.