It started as a normal day. I was on a high school tour with my daughter when a life-changing moment happened.
My doctor called and said the test results came back positive and I had breast cancer. I was 43 years old when I was diagnosed with stage two grade 7 HER 2+, ER+, and PR+. Can you imagine all the thoughts that rushed through my head at that moment? I’ll never forget the shame, confusion, and fear I felt. So many things had changed from just that one phone call.
But in the midst of my distress, I heard God's voice say .” All sickness is not unto death” and that I would survive.
Everything happened in a flash! My treatment plan consisted of a bilateral mastectomy, 19 rounds of chemotherapy, 35 rounds of radiation, the removal of 8 lymph nodes, and reconstruction. All to happen immediately! God kept his word and I went through my treatment plan like a champ! Of course, I had my bad days, everyone does but I made it to tell my story.
While in treatment I saw the disparities that African Americans and all women of colour faced. From then on it became my mission to be the one advocating for them. Having cancer isn’t something that life prepares you for and it definitely doesn’t prepare you for the financial burden, or the bureaucracy of medical insurance that most cancer patients face. I witnessed the plight that other survivors had to overcome such as them losing their homes, jobs, marriages, being denied access to medical coverage, equipment, procedures, and insurance.
You see cancer doesn’t give you a choice so healthcare coverage and treatment plans should provide choices that are equitable to all. Choices that improve the quality of life not just sustain it.
When you're going through the toughest seasons of your life you deserve the best care possible. If it had not been for my village some options would have cost me more than I was able to bare. Survivors are often plagued with financial hardships that should be covered by a guaranteed security fund. Congress has all the power to create one and as of right now there remains nothing.
According to the National Breast Cancer Coalition, 1 in every 8 women will be diagnosed in 2021 along with 281,550 women will be affected by invasive breast cancer. Oh, don’t forget about men. 2% of them will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer. So, What do we do? We push for a cure. We don’t stop till we find one! It baffles me that a man can walk on the moon, and airplanes are flying in the sky yet there is no cure for cancer… So do your part, get your yearly mammograms, and if you're not of the “recommended age” advocate for your health! After all, you're the expert on you.
LaKeisha S. McGee, PHD