The Pink Sistah: Diagnosed at 26
By: Patricia Fox
The Pink Sistah
It was Tuesday, the week of Thanksgiving in 2013, and I was in a great mood! Not only was I preparing for a productive day at work, but I was looking forward to going on a date later that evening. The shower water was a perfect temperature as I rinsed myself off, and my spirits were high. It wasn’t until I looked down and noticed a lump at the top of my breast that my mood totally shifted. Panic and dizziness riddled me as I turned off the shower. After spending a few moments in silence, I decided to try and gather myself and my thoughts.
“I just turned 26 a month ago. It can’t be that?!”
Although I tried to assure myself that it wasn’t what I suspected it could be, I still called my employer informing them that I would be going to the doctor’s office that day, instead of work. During my entire drive I was convinced that I was being a hypochondriac and creating unnecessary bills! Upon my visit I was scheduled for a needle biopsy that following Friday. The procedure was invasive and more emotionally painful than physically. I was told I'd get a follow-up call with the results from my OB-GYN.
On December 5th I was advised that I would be a cancer survivor. I laughed out loud at the news and thought, how can this happen to me? I'm too young! But with no time wasted, nor time to really digest that I had a fatal disease, I was immediately scheduled to have my eggs harvested in case chemotherapy disrupted my fertility. This required injecting hormones into my stomach during specific times of the day. Afterward I would undergo a Lumpectomy, followed by a series of 16 chemotherapy treatments, (Adriamycin Cytaxon biweekly + Taxol weekly), and 37 radiation sessions. I chose to have a port implanted beforehand for simpler administering of treatments which left me with a sweet scar. I say sweet because scars are only souvenirs of a battle won! I was also advised to take Tamoxifen, which I tried and discontinued because I felt that the side effects disrupted my quality of life.
Looking back, I truly do not know how I survived all the pain except to say it was God. Initially, I was in denial and I continued to be leading all the way up to chemotherapy. With the exception of my parents, siblings and couple of close friends, I hadn’t shared my news with anyone. Aside from physical side effects, I endured a lot of emotional trauma. My doctor shared with me that she believed stress induced my cancer. Most cancers that she'd seen like mine were in older women who were heartbroken from the loss of a parent, spouse or child. The physician may have been right, because prior to my diagnosis I had lost a lot and was the in the process of recreating my life. I found myself fondly thinking of when Iyanla Vanzant said, "When you enter a new experience, all that requires healing rushes to the surface... you have to pause.” Cancer forced me to pause and look at everything that was hurting and holding me back. I decided to go to therapy. As a result, my mind was clearer, my decision making skills were improving, my thoughts about myself became positive, my heart was mending and I began severing toxic relationships. My biggest accomplishment following therapy was creating The Pink Sistah. Through this innovative platform I use my makeup artistry skills to provide complimentary services for the cancer community.
I cannot say I am better because of cancer. I will say God saw me to-and-through it so that I may be better (Isaiah 48:9-11). To my sisters who have been diagnosed with anything terminal, please remember that it is okay to put YOU first. Sometimes you must remove the cape from your back and cater to yourself. Be assured that a diagnosis of any terminal illness is not a death sentence, but a battle you win every day that you wake up with your mind made up to fight! So FIGHT sisters, because you are already victorious.