By Felecia Mahone
Breast cancer invaded my family. My mom fought breast cancer with every ounce of strength in her body and it took her. It’s been 37 years since I last saw her and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wish she was still here.
As if that wasn’t devastating enough, breast cancer came for my Aunt Harriet, Aunt Gwen, my Cousin Ursula and Cousin Janice. It took them, too. Why? Who was next – me? Actually, yes. Then, breast cancer came for me at just 27 years old. I later learned that I had a gene mutation that increased my risk of breast cancer.
I was diagnosed at a time when I was supposed to be enjoying life – going out with friends, starting a family, just living life to the fullest. I never thought I was immune to breast cancer but I thought I was the lucky one in the family. I was wrong – it came for me. It came for me with a vengeance. I was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, a very aggressive type of this disease. But, I was determined to keep my faith strong, hold my head up high, and give breast cancer a solid fight.
When I was diagnosed, it was hard to believe the number of people that just looked at me with a blank face. Even some of the people I’m closest to. Maybe they thought I was going to pass away like my mom and the other women in my family. By the grace of God, I’m here writing my story, so that I can be part of the efforts to end this disease for good. Because breast cancer should not have to be a death sentence.
I want to change my friends and family see this disease, and have breast cancer be talked about openly. I want to equip women with the right information so that they can know their risks. When I was fighting, I lost my job while I was getting treatment. I know this happens far too often and I want to make sure that other women in communities have access to the financial backing for the care they need.
I’ll never forget the important women in my life who I lost to this disease. In their honor, I will help do everything I can to change this. I have a purpose here. I have a chance that I will never, ever take for granted.