Kammie say’s, you’ve got to have FAITH!
Residence: New York City
My friend Kammie, a married mother of three children (21, 19 and 4 years old) took some time to have a phone interview with me and educate me about her breast cancer experience so that I can share that information with you. It was eye opening, sad and inspiring all at the same time. I learned a lot about the medical facts but what I learned most, is the power that we possess through the application of our faith in God. Her upbeat survivor attitude is amazing and addictive. I asked Kammie, “If there was one thing you could say about all that you are going through right now, what would it be?” She replied, “I’m here for a reason so I’m not worried about dying. I am not going to let the devil steal my joy. I refuse too!”
Question: How and when did you find out that you had breast cancer?
Answer: On Saturday, March 7, 2009 I was sitting at home and felt a lump on the side of my right breast. It did not feel normal and was not there before. My husband agreed and I immediately called the doctor. That same week I went in and had a mammogram, sonogram and biopsy all in the same day. After that I put it in God’s hands. I decided that no matter what the results were, I was going to give it to God and leave it with him. I knew that he would give me the strength to handle whatever came my way.
Question: Does breast cancer run in your family?
Answer: It does not run on either side of my family. I am the first one. I never had a mammogram when I turned 40 so now at 41 years old, after discovering the lump, this was my first time.
Question: What happened when you got the diagnosis?
Answer: A week after the tests I got a call at work. They told me that I had stage 0-1 breast cancer. I broke down crying and my co-worker consoled me. I pulled myself together, went home and shared it with my family. Shortly afterward I was back at the doctor with my family discussing options for treatment. I went to one doctor and it was not a good fit. I decided to go to Sloan’s Kettering in Manhattan and it was the best decision I could have ever made. Everyone there is excellent at what they do. They were supportive, well informed, professional and pleasant. They have been a real blessing to me.
Question: What treatment did you undergo?
Answer: Well, I had DCIS which means Docturnal Carcinoma in situ. A lumpectomy would have left me with a 10-12% chance of the cancer returning. In order to decrease that, I decided to have a full mastectomy of the right breast which I did on May 7, 2009. Since I am a size 42DD, I elected to have full reconstructive surgery which will not take place until January 2010. They will take fatty tissue from my stomach to re-create my right breast. Since then, I have undergone chemotherapy treatments and I just finished my last one in September! It was challenging and I lost all of my hair but all I can think about is surviving. Now I have to start using Tamoxifen for 5 years, a pill to prevent cancer.
Question: As a bald woman myself, I know how damaging to your self esteem hair loss can be. How have you dealt with these changes to your self image in addition to having a mastectomy?
Answer: I did not think about how I would feel afterward, I just did what I had to do. I was a little self conscious at first when I left the hospital. I would hold something in front of me to cover up that side of my chest. I had to wear a surgical bra during the healing process but now I can wear a regular bra. I found a few cosmetic tricks that work for me to create symmetry so now I feel more comfortable when I go outside. I tried to wear a wig at first but I found it to be too hot, uncomfortable and just not for me. I quickly gave it up and decided to just go out bald. I get a lot of compliments and I feel comfortable in my own skin. It’s just hair and eventually it will grow back.
Question: How have these image changes affected you intimately?
Answer: Honestly, they have not. My husband loves me unconditionally and I have learned to love myself for who I am. If you can do that, that is all that matters. Everything else will come naturally. I have started to wear make- up and pay more attention to the way I look to keep my confidence up and look my best.
The Last Question: Even though you are still going through this experience, what advice could you offer to other women who are experiencing these same challenges but may not have the strength or the positive attitude that you do?
The Final Answer: I would tell them not to go through this alone. Some women don’t want to burden others with their problem so they keep it in so their family wont’ worry about them. Don’t put an “S” on your chest and try to be a Superwoman. You NEED that support. You may have faith but you also need a shoulder. Know when to hold them and know when to FOLD them. If you try to go through a traumatic experience like this by yourself you will break down for real! I know that my faith in God has kept me. Whatever your belief system is, you have to trust it now more than ever. Make it work for you. More than medication, I believe that your attitude and your faith will facilitate your healing.
My Last words: I want to thank Kammie for letting us in and sharing such a personal experience with us. We are all impacted by breast cancer because we are all interconnected. I salute Kammie and all of the other brave women who have or are currently battling breast cancer. I will honor your experience by learning a lesson and consciously making better health choices. I personally commit to perform regular self breast exams, yearly mammograms and singing telegrams if that will raise awareness and money for the cure! Lol. I love you and my prayers are with you on this day and always.
Post in with your words of encouragement, shout outs and precious memories for breast cancer awareness month.
The Spotlight is on LaQwanna
“We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others.”
LaQwanna is a beacon of light in a world too often full of darkness. To say that her testimony is inspiring is an understatement. Her story is one that is evidence that there is a God and that the Holy Spirit dwells in us to give us strength, beyond natural strength.
LaQwanna’s story begins with her experience of having been born with a severe eye disability. As a result of this, she often endured ridicule and teasing as a child. Building her self esteem was a constant battle when life seemed to throw challenges that made it even more difficult than the average teenager. LaQwanna has been able to overcome those challenges and win the hearts of so many through her amazing personality, sense of humor, intelligence and kind heart. The disability lays in the ignorance of others perception, not in the reality of who she really is.
With an amazing optimistic view on life, LaQwanna, who only recently turned 21 years old, had to console me when she told me that she was recently diagnosed as HIV positive. My heart became heavy and I did not know quite how to respond. I wanted to be encouraging, but in that moment, I was at a loss for words. I was afraid for her and for all of us. LaQwanna is handling it like a mature adult with courage and dignity. She contracted HIV through unprotected sex with a former boyfriend. It is the story we hear so often about the importance of having safe sex. Not until the truth comes knocking on your door or on the door of the ones you love, does that reality settle in to find a new conviction in your heart. Young people under age 30 are the #1 case of new HIV reports in the United States.
“HIV has no respect of person so we must respect ourselves.”
LaQwanna, who fortunately to date is still very healthy and does not need medication now uses her voice to speak out about HIV to educate others. She is becoming a powerful force in the HIV community already and was recently featured in the Dec 2008/Jan 2009 issue of “Seventeen Magazine” on page 156.
I cannot say enough about how proud I am of her. Her liberation story is one that will make us all stand up and get a grip on life. If she can smile and press forward in a positive direction, loving herself and everyone around her, so can I and so can you. She is a role model to me and I am so lucky to know her and call her friend. In the words of LaQwanna,
“Having HIV is not the worst thing that can happen to you. There are other things that are worse, so I am going to enjoy every day of my life. If I have endured everything else I have been through, I can get through this too with the grace of God!”For booking inquires to have LaQwanna come and share her story and encouraging words, call: 917-432-4351