Friday, October 25, 2019

Knowing your family history can help you catch cancer early

(Note: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The following is a transcript of the video posted above, which was originally shared by Taking Aim at Cancer in Louisiana [TACL] on its Facebook page.)

Hello, I’m Gerrelda Davis, the executive director of the Louisiana Primary Care Association. In collaboration with TACL and its Knowing Your Family History campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’d like to tell you about my story.

In 2010, I actually had a mammogram, and it was my second mammogram ever in my life. I was 40 years old and I, thank goodness, had decided when I was 39 and pressured my doctor to have a baseline mammogram. They thought I was too young, but I told them I needed it. I’d only at that point in my family history had one maternal aunt that had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

So, at 40, when I turned 40 and had the test done, unfortunately about a day later I got a call and they were telling me that I needed to come back in for further tests. So, it took me about, I think, five tests later for them to diagnose me with Stage 1 breast cancer. It really turned my life upside down, not knowing whether or not I would survive, what I would have to go through.

Gerrelda Davis, right, with Louisiana Department 
of Health Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee
But I’d say — and this is not a plug for them, believe it or not — Ochsner Health System in New Orleans, they were so, so welcoming and kind to me, and the doctors that worked there were just a blessing. And, then when I found out that those same doctors had been on the same team that my aunt had been when she was diagnosed, I was just so comfortable, and by the grace of God I got through what I had to get through.

Because of my age, I had to go through a very long and extensive amount of chemo, a chemo regimen, and after that I had to do radiation. But I had the support that I needed from family, from friends, from work. I had the best bosses at that time who allowed me to take off when I needed to, to do my treatment and come back into the office whenever I could. And, it was just an experience I’d say that could have really shattered my life but didn’t because of the support that I had, the connectedness.

And then, though, at the very end, after the radiation, after the chemo, I will say that for anyone, you, that after you’re not going to the doctor every single day or every week it makes you feel lost. And, I did feel lost. Because I wasn’t sure. Every time I thought about it, I’m like, “OK, is it gonna come back?” Also, I had that survivor’s guilt — I thought about all those people that were diagnosed who didn’t survive. But thank goodness, by the grace of God I got through that because of, once again, the support system that I had.

And, I’ll tell you, there’s this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that I actually decided to make a mantra for in my life and it says, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do,” and that’s to be a survivor. And, I determined after all of that, that no matter what I would be a survivor. No matter what, whether or not my hair grew back, my eyebrows grew back — you know, being a female and being very, I guess, vain about those types of things — no matter what, I determined that I would be a survivor.

And, here I am, nine years later, still surviving — going to my oncologist every six months, having a clean bill of health — and thankful and very grateful that I determined to survive. And, by the grace of God, I have. Thank you.

No comments:

Post a Comment