Awareness is vital to early detection, so examine your breasts monthly and get regular check-ups. (Courtesy of BlackpressUSA)

By Marnita Coleman
Special to the AFRO

As I consciously move my thoughts beyond social distancing, wearing a mask and washing my hands for at least 20 seconds each time, I realize that October is standing at the door with all of its pink glory.

For me, October marks the 14th year of breast cancer survivorship. It’s been a long road but I’m going to keep on truckin’. I salute the sisterhood of survivors and acknowledge those beautiful angels that succumbed to this hideous disease, including my wonderful mother. I simply say to them, “gone too soon.”

When I was battling breast cancer and receiving chemo treatments, I recall speaking with a gentleman friend who knew about my health challenge. He was kind and very concerned. Our conversation was a bit spotty with moments of silence that kept us from crying. He awkwardly shared that his mother had it too. This was his way of conveying that he was familiar with breast cancer and was rooting for me to make it. I appreciated the sentiment because he didn’t pretend to be ignorant of my trial. 

Although breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, according to the American Cancer Society, men are affected as well. In fact, one percent of all new cases of breast cancer occur in men. Nevertheless, the most important fact is breast cancer is treatable, and awareness and early detection still rank as effective ways to counter its attack.

In the era of COVID-19, I am more vigilant than ever to stay “woke,” as they say, in regard to protecting my health. I’m told breast cancer prevention is better than cure, so here are a few familiar tips that work:  

Constantly sanitize common objects in your home like doorknobs, surfaces, faucets, and handles to rid bacteria. Frequently wash your hands to kill germs and reduce exposure to contaminants. Read ingredient labels! A scientist once told me to avoid products that contain substances that you cannot pronounce. It was a soft warning that I still honor. Stay as organic and natural as possible with food and product choices. Minimize use of lotions, bath products and skincare items that are heavily laced with fragrance because these are absorbed through the skin. 

Awareness is vital to early detection so self examine your breast monthly, get regular check ups and annual mammograms, see your doctor immediately if you have concerns.  However, do not be afraid of the diagnosis. Early detection is what saved my life.  

Finally, as I moved through the breast cancer treatment process, someone gave me a journal and encouraged me to write about my experience. Initially, I was against recording my thoughts because it was a hard place for me and I wanted no memories of it at all. But the more I pondered on it, the more I felt it necessary to tell my version of what happened. I needed everyone to know that breast cancer stole my mother from me, but it was not going to take me from my daughters.

I had a great team of doctors who encouraged me along the way. They would often say, “You’re going to be fine!” I agreed with them and believed it because my faith was in the divine healing that Jesus promised through the holy scriptures.  

Yet, inside I felt conflicted because I wasn’t sure who I would be when the process was over. I wondered if my husband would still be attracted to me because of the mastectomy. I imagined that everyone knew I had breast cancer and looked at me with pity in their eyes. Toxicity bombarded my mind, so I wrote about how I was feeling in order to get those thoughts out of my head. My entries began with the hardcore facts of what happened during the process and how it seemed to be an extension of my mother’s enemy coming for me. By the end, I was at peace and had journeyed my way to wholeness. Whereas chemotherapy treated my body, journaling healed my soul.

My survival of breast cancer came by way of my faith in God, confidence in the team of doctors, supportive family and friends and journaling to my heart’s delight.

Marnita Coleman is a breast cancer survivor, author and host of The Marnita Show, a parenting show heard daily across the globe. For more information, log onto TheMarnitaShow.com.

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