“If there is no conflict, there are no stories worth telling – or reading.” — Veronica Roth
Do you agree? “Wholeheartedly!
The internal conflict rose from within and formed a raised, rigid bar-shaped lump between my breasts. My mind wondered what was wrong as my body urged my fingers to continue exploring the invader. As I repeatedly rubbed my fingers along the growth, I made the decision to consult with a specialist. After hours of poking and prodding, the nurse confirmed their suspicions — I was carrying a deadly disease born from my environment as it certainly was not hereditary. When I stopped to really think about it, how would I know if I carried the gene? My parents and grandparents were all deceased before the age of 50…
I turned towards heaven and prayed: “It is not time to see my heavenly family yet. I have a lot of living to do.” I took the BRACA gene test, providing a negative result, later finding out the cancer had metastasised and lymph node removal was necessary.
As a non-medical professional, it was my decision to have a mastectomy and not allow breasts to define me as a woman. Reconstruction brought on another set of issues as my body rejected the foreign objects. Giving up was not an option. I was going Home fighting if need be. Five surgeries later, I was able to bid goodbye to my surgeons and search for a tattoo artist who was going to artistically replace what was taken from my chest. I ended up right back at my plastic surgeon’s side to complete his masterpiece (my massacre).
Healthy mental stimulation won the battle over mental exhaustion. I cleared the course on the road to recovery by taking action, partnering with medical professionals who care, and asking personal journey questions to the warriors who are lovingly referred to as survivors. I reported for radiation treatments every week and requested a playing of the band, Maroon 5’s hit song “Sunday Morning” to lull me into a sense of security in the designated chamber in the basement of the local hospital. My skin became tender and burned. Still I returned for each and every treatment. How did I protect my skin? African shea butter became my ally, my protector. The beauty of my black skin would illicit the same question over and over: “Where did you go for vacation?” I simply smiled and responded, “I am on a staycation.”
I stood up to external conflict when it came to dating. I continued to finger pop and twirl across the dance floor as if everyone was watching my performance. I met some handsome, strong men who stepped up and made their intentions known. I responded in kind instead of fleeing. My actions were like a person burdened with a huge secret. I would have “the talk” before any consensual contact: “Before we take this any further, I have something I have to tell you. I am a breast cancer survivor and I have some serious scars that you should be aware of…”. Curiosity stood in the face of fear and allowed me to have some of the best relationships I am able to recall. Life has always been a journey with its highs and lows but I was able to persevere with an illness that is often a death sentence.
I thank my suitors for their gentleness, love and faith in taking a broken person and helping her put each piece back together again.
Eight years later, I proudly tell the story of a woman who continues to be determined, loves passionately and learned how to live a life with a body that betrayed her but never took away the dignity which her ancestors bestowed upon the motherless daughter.
This is my story worth telling so that all can move beyond internal and external conflict that rears its ugly head.
There may be a pause along the journey called ‘Life’ but don’t you give up.
Whatever you believe, you will achieve.
Juggle the obstacles presented to you and smile with appreciation towards the heavenly sky.
Whatever gets you through the day, hold onto it.
Keep it on reserve and use the magic whenever needed.
You. Got. This.
Peace and blessings to life lived and celebrated.