Face-To-Face with Breast Cancer
By April C. Thornton
Do you know anyone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer? It could be the woman that sits right next to you on the train, the woman you call your second mother or the man who is editor of the local newspaper. Breast cancer does not discriminate.
The junior class along with Sisters of Nia sponsored a Breast Cancer Awareness Program on campus Sept. 30 during which seven-year breast cancer survivor Angela Mathews talked up her experience with the disease.
Mathews said she was living life to the fullest and put off her annual mammogram. "I got very busy with my life, because we all think we're extremely busy in what we do. I missed a year for a mammogram, not realizing it, and I discovered a lump in June." She thought it was fatty tissue or a cyst. After returning from the Essence festival in Louisiana, the lump was still there and she made an appointment for a mammogram.
The doctors noticed a specious mass. She said, "Every time you get the word that it's a specious mass, it's not atomically malignant. Often times mass are benign, it's not cancerous and not life threatening." After the conduction of more tests, the results came back that her mass was malignant. She stated that all breast cancer does not require chemotherapy. Whether a patient undergoes chemotherapy depends on the size of the lump, the stage of the cancer and how aggressive the cancer is.
Mathews endured a lumpectomy, which is the surgical excision of a tumor from the breast. This is in contract to a mastectomy which is the removal of all or part of the breast. Unfortunately the cancer had spread to her lymphocyte and she underwent chemotherapy, a treatment that often results in patients losing their hair.
"We put a lot of emphasis in our hair because we think that defines who we are and how we look." Mathews admitted that she was slightly guilty of that and she cut her hair in preparation for her fight with breast cancer. She went through radiation to make sure the chemo killed everything. Her comical personality, great support system and God helped her though her journey. Mathews said, "When I look back on it now it was frightening. I learned I am stronger than I think."
Mathews left the audience with some facts: Become familiar with your breasts especially if you have a family history of breast cancer. Women should check their breasts once a month and 10 days after their menstrual cycle ends. A number of women tend to have cyst in their breast and sometimes after your menstrual you would probably feel a lump, so do not panic. Mathews said, "Women are often diagnosed with breast cancer, but do not have any family history of the disease." More black women unfortunately die from breast cancer because a larger portion tends not to have healthcare.
Sisters of Nia Member Chyna Pollard said, "I enjoyed the program, having breast cancer being pretty prevalent in my family......It's very informative and always great to hear something straight from the source and I hope to see it again on campus." Junior class President and Vice President of Sisters of Nia Lauren Allen said Mathews "inspires me to give back to people and go out into the world and make a difference. Thank you so much Mrs. Mathews for enlightening BSU with your story."
For further information about ways for breast self-examination go to www.komen.org.