Sunlight and Gems


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I call it the beast. That thing called cancer. I don’t like to hear that name, not to mention talk about it. I pray never to hear that word as a diagnosis from any physician. Many of us fear that darkness. In many of our lives it has become a reality, a diagnosis that has floored many and brought them to their knees. In one family that I am acquainted with, there has been nine to ten diagnosis of breast cancer over the years. I do wonder if that could be BRCA 2 related. I was shocked when a very good friend was diagnosed with cervical cancer but with early detection treatment she is a cancer survivor. My friend and coworker’s husband was diagnosed with liver cancer in January 2018 and died in June. Another friend was diagnosed with Non- Hodgins Lymphoma and is now a cancer survivor. It was the early detection and treatment that helped her along. I sat with her at Sloan Kettering. You had to see her. She was the upliftment within that cancer area. She had everyone laughing including the doctor. She was like a ray of sunshine, a breath of fresh air. Although she herself was ill she gave others hope with her positivity. A young member of my husband’s family was suddenly diagnosed with lung cancer. Thank the heavens she is now also a cancer survivor. To sum it up it’s a diagnosis that many of us have not been able to dodge but there are treatments and positive prognosis if detected early.

It’s almost the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In New York alone, according to the New York City Department of Health, Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women in New York State. One in eight women will be afflicted with breast cancer during her life. Men are not exempt from this diagnosis. Quite recently, Beyoncé, the famous American singer; her father, Matthew Knowles came out with his diagnosis of breast cancer. Some people who are afflicted with cancer have no signs or symptoms but with early detection can help you prevent cancer from spreading to other parts of your body.

I have had my health challenges and struggles over the years and I have no choice but to deal with it. It is not an easy road but I do manage with a strong support system. In recent months I had a scare in regards to breast cancer but I am so thanking God that everything worked out fine. With the exception of my husband no one knew about my struggles. I do have that pain in my right breast at times but I think I have completed all the tests required including the very important mammogram. It’s not easy to emerge from the darkness that surrounds you with a diagnosis of cancer. Sometimes we become bitter, sometimes we emerge with more confidence and self-awareness and sometimes with much gratitude and thankfulness. In the case of my friend who has lost her husband time has not healed her wounds. She has not truly accepted that her husband of twenty five years was suddenly taken from her in the blink of an eye by the beast called cancer. It has basically changed her life To be honest sometimes courage deserts us and have us running in the opposite direction. I see how difficult it is for some people to share information about their illness but it is important that you do not go through your challenges by yourself, find your own C, that is; Companions, company who will surround you with support and give you strength when you are failing. It’s okay to have a shoulder or shoulders to lean on. It makes all the difference not to be alone. Do not let the darkness swallow you up

In this modern age we can’t help but become more aware of the risks and the association with BRCA2 mutations. There are websites, message boards, television programs and information. Learn about breast risks and prevention everywhere. Information can be found at The American Cancer Society. In Jamaica, The Jamaica Cancer Society, World Health Organization are also sources of information. There is information about Mastectomy and Masectomy products, Breast Cancer stories of hope, designated places where breast cancer screening can be done and information regarding prevention and detection of cancer on the American Cancer Society Website.. Information is also offered at clinics and hospitals. Outside of that, there is family and friends that can be a strong support system. As individuals we may not be able to cure you but we will be there to offer our compassion, understanding and hope. At the end of it all, together we may be able to kick up our heels and laugh at the beast called cancer.

About The Author

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Dantie Smith-Brown

Dantie Smith-Brown was born and raised in Jamaica, West Indies, where she graduated from teacher’s college before migrating to the United States. Changing course upon arrival, she became a Respiratory Care Practitioner when her father introduced her to that specialized area in health care. She is passionate about educating, diagnosing and treating individuals who suffer from heart and lung diseases to improve their health and well-being.

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