Name: Coqueace “Koco” Powell
Occupation: Cancer Blogger and Speaker
How did you find out that you had breast cancer? I was doing a self-exam and saw something that was protruding and felt a little hard. I asked my mom what she thought and she said that I should go get it checked out. I didn’t have insurance at that time but a friend of mine had just gone to a class where she learned about the Komen Dallas County Clinic. My friend informed me that the Dallas County affiliate of Susan G. Komen grants funding to Methodist Health System to provide screening and diagnostic procedures for Dallas County residents. The services are provided at no cost for those who qualify and I was able to go to the Komen Dallas Women’s Imaging Center for a mammogram, followed by a sonogram and biopsy. A week later I learned that I had Stage 3 breast cancer! During the weeks following I had lymph node surgery and began chemo treatment.
What has been the negative and positive sides of your fight with cancer? Breast cancer suddenly turned my whole life upside down. The negative is the actual breast cancer struggle and the idea of knowing that you have it. On the positive side, my family has grown closer and I’ve been humbled to open my mind and heart to new and different things which have allowed me to be able to help a lot of other ladies.
What are the top five things that every breast cancer patient should know?
- Put on makeup and wear clothes that make you feel better. Be positive!
- When you can, don’t act like you’re sick.
- Don’t stop doing or being who you were and still are.
- Cancer doesn’t define you — it is a temporary and unwelcome visitor. You didn’t ask for it to come.
- Find out what you’re supposed to learn from this test –as if it is just another one of life’s trials.
What can others do to help lower the risk of cancer? I tell everyone I can that it’s not just a disease for persons over 50 year old. I would love to talk to more women under the age of 40 about the importance of self-exams and watching for warning signs. Early detection is so important and getting your mammograms is a huge part of that.
For more information, please visit www.komen-dallas.org.