Dec. 14, 2022, is remembered as it was my late maternal grandmother’s birthday and the date of my yearly mammogram and ultrasound. I have dense breast tissue and my breast often contained cysts that caused me to worry, so I always scheduled an ultrasound as well. Like in the past, I had cysts, but this time, my right breast was rock hard and I was experiencing random pangs of pain.
The ultrasound revealed that it was just fluid in my right breast but, in the left breast, there was indeed a small lump that was not fluid filled and a biopsy was done right away. I remember having 3 separate samples removed to be tested and on the 3rd one, I felt a very abrupt burning sensation. Even though I told myself not to be dramatic but to wait for the test results, I felt like the burning sensation was a sign that it was cancer.
The next day, at my son’s saxophone lesson, I got the call and my suspicions were confirmed. I have cancer. Ok, now I could be full blown dramatic as I thought I was going to die. As many before me, I couldn’t believe I had cancer. I was a professional dancer for 21 years with no injuries or surgeries. After leaving the concert stage, I continued to be disciplined with my diet and exercise and had begun to mentor, motivate and inspire others through dance, yoga, nutrition, and injury prevention. How could this be? What did I not do? Why is this happening to me? One of my doctors told me sometimes bad things happen to good people. I have been a witness and supporter of others during their cancer journey…my childhood best friend, a mentor who is like an aunt, my husband, and now, it was my turn. Not just physically, but also emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually, I needed support.
Diagnosed with grade 1 mammary carcinoma, my prognosis favored me not dying and I had a lumpectomy in February. My thought was that once I had the surgery, I would be ok. After my surgery, I was not ok and reached out to the Breast Cancer Coalition (BCCR) to find out about the Sisters of Color discussion group. I went in for the initial consultation and immediately felt welcomed and supported, along with gaining access to information, resources, and women who have been through it all. I am not being dramatic when I say it literally felt like a “warm hug.” In addition to attending the Sisters of Color discussion group and the Brown Bag Friday Lunch group, I also connected with a Peer Advocates Lending Support (PALS) group peer mentor, who had been through the same diagnosis. As it turns out, she knew me from participating in my Zumba classes. Yes, but not that dramatically, I cried. We all need support!