Surviving breast cancer has enlightened me in so many areas of my life. I’ve become more positively focused on the future and all the opportunities and “Promises” that lie ahead. I knew immediately that my life had to be more purpose driven. My innermost instincts were telling me that I needed to share my journey with everyone I knew. I remember thinking: I have to share my story to help others. For the last fifteen years Susan G. Komen for the Cure has afforded me the opportunity to fulfill my passion which is breast health education, advocacy, and the fight to eradicate breast cancer forever.
It was July 3, 1995. I was carrying a suitcase to the elevator at the hotel, filled with excitement anticipating all the wonderful fun I’d have at my family reunion. I felt this excruciating pain under my arm. To my amazement I felt a hard lump. I thought it was from shaving or deodorant. Well, it hurt more each day of my vacation and I decided to see my doctor as soon as I returned home.
I was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer with lymph node involvement. Having no family history and considered too young for a mammogram, I was forced to plead with doctors to get a mammogram. Being diagnosed early was a blessing and I’m living proof that “Early Detection Helps Save Lives”.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure saved my life. I had just resigned from my job and opened my hair salon so, I was uninsured. My chemotherapy and radiation were clinical trials funded by grants from Komen during 1995 through 1997. Komen has accomplished so much globally and in our Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Affiliate. Seventy five percent of the Affiliate’s net income raised here stay in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties. The other twenty five percent of the dollars raised here go to fund national research.
In 2011, the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Affiliate raised over $2 million, with $1.8 million just from the Race for the Cure. We sent $398,733 to fund national research projects, and $1,098,917 went to 33 local hospitals and community organizations that provide breast health education and breast cancer screening and treatment programs for medically underserved as well as extensive educational outreach programs in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Monroe Counties. One local grant alone helped 3,000 women all the way from detection to treatment. No other organization currently does what we do.
I had the privilege of participating in another study funded by grants from Komen for women of Bahamian descent. My oncologist is the Principal Investigator for this particular study and recognized the high prevalence of BRCA1 mutations among breast cancer patients from the Bahamas. Stay tuned for the results. The fight continues…..
I have so much to be thankful for. I have walked this journey with so many women in my role as a breast cancer support group facilitator which Komen grants funded as well. I met the Executive Director of Komen Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, Bobbi Meyers, twelve years ago and forged a friendship sharing a passion for eradicating breast cancer as well as helping women in underserved communities have access to mammograms and breast health awareness. I am a member of Komen Advocacy Alliance, an Ambassador for Komen’s Circle of Promise, a Komen Speaker/Educator, and facilitate Komen’s Women of Color Outreach (Sistah Talk).
It’s hard to convey my sentiments for Susan G. Komen for the Cure without tears. Just know that these are tears of JOY! There have been many bends in the road living as a breast cancer survivor but, I’m thankful for every moment! My commitment to Susan G. Komen for the Cure stands firm and solid.
Together we can all see our goal to eradicate breast cancer through research and direct help to low-income, uninsured, and underserved women become a reality.