I am 72, almost 73. I’m originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, but currently reside in Dallas, Texas. My family and I were affected by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. After moving, I had gotten laid off from my job of 38 years. I had been working virtually but decided not to go to work to concentrate on my son and learn my way around Dallas. I just could not get a job from 8-5, and not have anyone there to help him out as he is in Special Ed and he had two years left till graduation. When he got out of high school, I got involved with Special Olympics and I decided to become a coach because my son wanted to get involved with sports. When people asked what I was going to do when I was laid off with my son I told them “I’m going to live until I die and I’m going to be happy doing it”. I prayed every day that I would live long enough that I could make my child independent.
I’m one of 18 children. Being in church and being strictly Catholic, I am very close to my family. Every year I would go home to Thanksgiving and I was even planning a big family reunion. I went to my yearly physical and my doctor found a lump and immediately scheduled a biopsy. They then confirmed that they were Stage I breast cancer tumors, I was so ready to get them out. They were surprised I was so willing and I said, “Well I have things to do”. I had my church activities and Special Olympics and I had always lived a life where “I would get up, dress up, and show up”.
I was diagnosed in October of 2016, had my surgery in December, and finished my last chemo treatment on March 16th! On my last day of treatment, I walked in as a patient and left as a champion.
My biggest advice to recently diagnosed patients is to stay positive. How I stayed positive was through my family and many friends I made at my church. I found so many friends through treatment since my family is so spread out and I didn’t get to see them as much as I would have liked. My daughter was always worried when I would be doing things for other people while receiving treatment but it makes me happy! It is no shirt off my back! When things are negative, you have to be positive! When I hear people being negative, I have to ignore them so I can remain positive!
My other advice to recently diagnosed patients is that the decision on what to do to your body is yours. You have to be comfortable with the decision you make. I decided not to do reconstruction even though I was encouraged to and I am happy with my decision. Sometimes you just have to accept things, be positive, and move on.