Cancer Mantra by Doris White

Doris White

I wanted to reiterate the mantra that has kept my journey bearable for nearly one year: Armor on. Prayers up. Let's go! Those words have special significance, as they connect my faith, my feisty personality, and my dogged determination to survive this odyssey.

As a woman with an unexpected diagnosis of synchronous uterine and cervical cancers at the age of 64, I have had many opportunities to throw in the towel and curl up to await my fate. But that would be contrary to the fighting spirit that comes from being the runt on the playground in school, a lone Black woman litigator in a homogeneous courtroom, and a parent who negotiated with adolescent drivers in the house. Cancer is awful and sometimes painful, but I have been confronted by other terrible things over which I have had no control (a 1995 kidney stone and subsequent surgery come to mind).

You really cannot travel this road alone. I am blessed with a wonderful cancer posse comprised of family and friends across the country. SHARE's support group for uterine cancer patients of African American descent has been a true lifeline! Without that band of compassionate, transparent sisters, I would have few folks who truly understand the trek. Other people do not seem to laugh as much as we do about some un-funny stuff, like diarrhea, bald heads, and dilators. My SHARE sisters have been there and get it.

I rang that much-anticipated bell on January 9 and later had a clear PET scan. When folks ask if I am cured, I chuckle and respond that no, there has merely been a fork in the road and that my new path is one of surveillance. I remind them of my mantra---the words that still keep me grounded each day: Armor on. Prayers up. Let's go!

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