Congratulations on winning our Breast Cancer Survivor Awareness giveaway and thank you for being a part of our Holiday Issue as well.
CAT: How did you find out about your diagnosis?
QUEEN: I have always been one to pay attention to my body, the changes, the aches pains, anything that seemed out of the ordinary. My maternal grandmother and two of her sisters all had breast cancer so I would always perform self exams on myself even though I wasn’t in the said “age” range to get it. When I was 34 I felt a tingling sensation often in my breast, I told my OBGYN about it along with my concern because of my family history and she told me that I had nothing to worry about because I was healthy and “young” and that the sensation could come with having my cycle. She was the doctor so I trusted her word. Two years later I was laying in the bed one night and decided to do my exam and felt a lump in my left breast. The next day I made an appointment with my doctor who then sent me for a ultrasound and a biopsy…a series of tests later, February 10, 2012 was the day my life changed forever.
CAT: What were your treatments after your diagnosis?
QUEEN: I had to go through 6 rounds of chemo once every 3 weeks, I had a bilateral lumpectomy after chemo and then radiation every day for 6 weeks after the surgery. My chemo started in March of 2012, ended in July, I had surgery August 31, started radiation the end of October and was completed in Dec of the same year.
CAT: How did you handle and balance your diagnosis and motherhood?
QUEEN: I thought I was going to give up, but God had plans for me. Of course naturally the first thing that came to mind when I was diagnosed was that I was going to die. I was 36 years old with 4 children and at that moment life for me stopped, the first thing I thought was “Why me?” And will I get the chance to see my babies grow up. If it wasn’t for my mother and my father I honestly do not know how I would have made it through this, when I say they were my saviors for all things, that is honestly an understatement. You never think that it can happen to you, but I decided to take the fight on with the “S” on my chest. When I was told I had to do chemo I cried because I didn’t want to lose my hair (yes I am very vain when it comes to my hair) however I came to realize that my hair does not define me as a person and that I will be a beautiful bald woman for the rest of my life. I would go to my treatments on a Thursday morning, it was the hardest thing I had to do ever in life: the sickness, the weakness, the fatigue, having no appetite, all that’s associated. To this day I still get nauseous sometimes just thinking and talking about it. It was so bad I can say I went to HELL and back but the devil is a liar. It would drain me so bad that I wouldn’t be able to manage anything for roughly a week, I would start feeling better by the following Thursday, I had about a week where I would feel myself to a minimum then it was time to go back for another treatment. My job was VERY supportive in all of this so that was one thing that I did not have to worry about, they were truly there for me in it all. My kids are my life, they were my driving force to beat this, the younger ones couldn’t at the time really understand what Mom was going through but they were there every step of the way making sure I was “okay”. Trust there were definitely times that I felt like I wanted to give up and told myself I can’t do this, I didn’t feel like I could do it anymore but I had to refocus and get through it. The strength that God gave me I didn’t know I had, but I did know that he never puts anything on you that you cannot handle. When I look back I can now appreciate everything I went through to the fullest because it gave me the opportunity to have a second chance at life. I take nothing for granted and I am blessed and highly favored. I can stand here today and say I am a SURVIVOR.
CAT: How long have you been cancer free?
QUEEN: After all of my chemo treatments and my surgery, it was confirmed September 6, 2012 that I was free and clear of cancer so I have been cancer free by the grace of God for 7 years now. All praises to the man above for having my back and looking after me. However there is not a day that goes by that I do not think about it returning, everything that I feel in my body scares me.
CAT: Have you incorporated anything new into your health regimen since your diagnosis?
QUEEN: To be honest I haven’t changed anything major other then just paying attention of not only what I eat but what I use on my body as well, I have changed what I use for deodorants and I don’t spray perfumes and rub scented lotions on certain parts of my body. I’m just overly conscious of certain things now. My BCRA test came back negative for being hereditary, hard to believe since again my grandmother and two of her sisters had it but nope, it’s not hereditary in my family, so that brings me to believe that the rising cases of so many cancers these days, not only breast cancer is associated with being environmental..we have to pay attention.
CAT: How important are yearly screenings to you since surviving Breast Cancer?
QUEEN: VERY VERY VERY important I cannot express this enough. I used to go twice a year but now I am only required to just once a year. If something doesn’t feel right it most likely isn’t right and there is nothing wrong with getting it checked, better safe than sorry. My daughter is 13 and I am already asking her doctor questions about being proactive to things that could be preventive measures and safeguarding her to just bring awareness and help her as a teenager/young adult to understand anything that is beneficial in keeping her healthy. I encourage all woman to get there mammograms ON TIME, there is no such thing as oh I don’t have to worry about that because I am too young or it doesn’t run in my family so I am good. I was 36 when I found my lump and I’m sure it was there when I was 34 asking my doctor for help, that’s two years that this thing was most likely growing in my body and I had no clue. If you feel that you are not satisfied with what your doctor is saying please get a second opinion, doctors are human and make mistakes as well.
CAT: What does the word “ESSENCE” mean to you?
QUEEN: The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear that word is Grace and Elegance…for “me” the Essence of being a woman in the world today is nothing short of just being Graceful and Elegant while your living life and it doesn’t even have to be anything big it can be simply just day to day living.
CAT: What do you want your legacy to be?
QUEEN: Those who know me know me, what you see is what you get, I am a simple person who likes simple things. I just want my legacy to be of Love, Respect, Peace and Happiness. Since I have went through this journey I do not take one day for granted, I try to live life to the fullest whatever that may be for me. I now live by…Live Every Moment, Laugh Often, Love Deeply Beyond Words. I laugh in the midst of the fire so that I can see the Joy in the morning. If you ever feel like giving up, look up. I walk by Faith not by Sight…
~Live, Laugh, Love~
BEHIND THE COVER
MODEL: ZITA DELUCA
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: NORA BONDS @onlymissno
CELEBRITY PHOTOGRAPHER: TERRELL EDMONDS @pvstudioz