During the month of October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, rolling out kicked off our #ICommit campaign. We are encouraging Black women and men to focus on the importance of committing to a healthy lifestyle and getting regular checkups and mammograms. Aside from helping our readers understand the second most common form of cancer, we want to share with you the powerful stories of several courageous survivors who have battled the disease and beat it.
Cie Cie Wilson McGhee, a five-year breast cancer survivor, is one of those women who is lending her voice to help raise awareness, speak about the importance of early detection and knowing your body.
Take me back to 2013 when you heard the news, how did you feel and what was your mindset?
When I first heard the news [that I had a lump in my breast] I was in my doctor’s office. They said “don’t worry about it, it’s something that will probably go away.” In January 2013, I went to a board specialist, and immediately they knew that I needed a biopsy. I wasn’t really worried about the biopsy because I didn’t have a history of breast cancer in my family. On Jan. 12, 2013 I went back for the results. When he told me that it was stage 3 breast cancer I was devastated, I didn’t know what to do, didn’t know how to think, just didn’t know what the journey was ahead of me. I’d always been a supporter of cancer awareness by supporting different causes. It never touched home, but at that moment when I got that diagnosis, it did. The only thing that I could do at that time was
just reach down find my faith and believe that I was here for a reason. I wanted to be saved and God felt it important for me to be here as a breast cancer survivor. I’m here to tell my story so that others will know that they are not alone and that there are other people that have walked this journey. People that have not been diagnosed or affected by the disease, don’t understand the journey, the doctor’s visits, the treatments and everything that a breast cancer patient has to go through. It’s very important to connect with people who are on that journey and get as much information as you can.
Is it common for women to go to the doctor and be turned away or misdiagnosed?
Many times women can get misdiagnosed. This is why it’s important to get
your mammograms and to self-check your breast yourself. If you know your body and if there is a lump or any type of denseness that’s in your breast, you should get it checked out immediately. There are times when people are misdiagnosed for dense breast or the mammogram may not show up positive [for breast cancer]. It’s really important to get a 3-D mammogram because it can go more extensively into the breast.
Tell us about your support system while you were battling breast cancer?
The people that I reached out to were strangers. I’m a researcher by nature, I’m a celebrate-life advocate by nature, so I believe in living life to the fullest, 100 percent, 365 days a year. I had to find someone that I knew could help me along the journey to help me understand, and I reached out to different breast cancer support groups, my doctors, my caretakers, the nurses that are in the facilities. They’re there to give you 100 percent encouragement every day because you don’t know what your final result will be. You just have to walk in faith and believe that as long as you’re breathing that you’re here.
How has overcoming your battle impacted your outlook on life?
I have a stronger appreciation for life. I’ve always enjoyed and appreciated life, but now, on an average day, looking at the sky, I see the sky is bluer, the clouds are whiter and the flowers are more vibrant. I remember one day when I was home, and I was resting, and I kept hearing these birds outside of my window. I said, “These birds are so loud, they’re just chirping and humming and chirping and humming.” But at that moment, I realized that I was still here, [and] if I heard those birds humming that they were here for a reason. I felt like those were angels watching over me. So, now I have an appreciation for sound, for color, for taste. All of my senses have just been magnified, and I just embrace it more every day.
Share some advice with someone who is going through their cancer battle right now.
I have that Diddy mentality. They call me C Diddy sometimes because I have that “can’t stop, won’t stop” mentality. I heard all of the stories about when you go to chemo and all of the medications you have to take, that you won’t feel well, you won’t feel like walking, you’re going to throw up every day, and it may not work for everyone. All I know is it worked for me. I willed myself to not feel bad every day. I felt like if I could wake up every day and if I can put my feet on the floor… I actually went to work every day during my chemotherapy. I went to work during my radiation. I decided that I was not going to let cancer take over my body and not give me the opportunity to continue to live as long as I had inside of me.
We are grateful to the women who shared their personal stories. Rolling out is promoting overall health and wellness and will continue to encourage our audience to know and take care of their bodies. Click here to see videos of women who participated in rolling out‘s Pink Bra Challenge during our #ICommit breast cancer awareness campaign.