Breast cancer survivor stories: ‘You immediately think you are going to die’

SHARE Breast cancer survivor stories: ‘You immediately think you are going to die’

Editor’s note: October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the Chicago Sun-Times invited breast cancer survivors to share their stories. We’ll share these first-person accounts throughout the month.

My life changed forever on Dec. 16, 2010. That was the day I was told I had breast cancer. I am happy to report my story has a very happy ending and yours could, too, if you let early detection be the key.

During that period of my professional life I was traveling for work as a management consultant, which had me on a plane every Monday morning commuting to work and back on the plane every Thursday evening heading home. I was a true believer in annual health exams, but I was so busy that I could not find the time to squeeze in my mammogram.

By the end of September 2010 I was informed that I was going to be laid off, so I rushed to have all of my medical and dental appointments before my health insurance ended.

Fast-forward to mid-December and I was still unable to squeeze in that mammogram. I told myself that nothing was found the year before, so I wasn’t going to worry. Two seconds later when I came to my senses, I called the doctor, told the scheduler that my insurance was ending soon and she worked quickly to get me in.

The day I got my diagnosis was the scariest day of my life. When you hear “cancer” you immediately think you are going to die. But I am living proof that is not true. My breast cancer was found at stage 0-1, which puts me in the 100 percent survival club, so early detection is a lifesaver. Because my cancer was found in the early stages I was able to avoid chemo, radiation and medication. In that instance, for me, having a mastectomy was a small price to pay.

Ladies and gentlemen, talk to your friends, family, neighbors and strangers on the street.

Talk to everyone you know and everyone you meet about the importance of early detection and how it saves lives. Don’t wait until October; talk about it every day and in every way possible. White women have more diagnosed cases of breast cancer, but black women die more often from the disease. So take it out of the closet, air it out and let people know that taking care of your health is job 1!

Mother, daughter, sister, wife make early detection the key for LIFE!

Mabrey E. Simpson, Chicago

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