Tell us about your cancer experience
I was first diagnosed with cancer when I was 44 years old. I was a single mother of 2 boys, 14 and 18. At that time all I knew about cancer was that people died from this disease. I really did not know my family history with cancer, because we never ever talked about family illnesses or who died from what. So to my knowledge, I was the first one with cancer in the family.
Now I know so much more about my family’s medical history. I didn’t know where to turn or what questions to ask, but thank God I had a great primary care physician that sent me to a great surgeon. Let me note, I had great health insurance from my job which made it easy for me, and I know many African Americans do not have that.
I went through experimental chemotherapy and radiation, and came out victorious. The cancer returned to my lungs in 2009, and I had surgery to remove the lower part of my right lung. I have now been cancer free for 13 years. It has been a journey, with some scary times because there is always that fear of recurrence. Every time I go for my cancer wellness check up, I’m still nervous.
Tell us about your work as an Ambassador
As an Ambassador, I am able to reach out to community programs such as churches, senior centers, libraries and schools. I make connections with community based organizations and together we try to target the needs of people who could benefit from our services the most.
Why is being an Ambassador important to you?
When I was diagnosed I had absolutely no one to turn to for information or support. I would like to be that person for my community. African Americans are always the most affected, but the last to get information and support.
I have met so many courageous people and heard so many "if I had known stories” on this journey. It makes me feel proud that I am doing this necessary service for my community.