Survivor Stories

Bevylyn Lee

Hi my name is Bevylyn Lee and I am 60 years old.  I’d like to tell you about my journey with cancer.  My journey started in February 2015.  One day while showering I noticed a big lump. I was scheduled to see the doctor and informed her of the big lump I found.  The doctor immediately scheduled me for a mammogram. Well, the results came back positive…stage 3. I became very afraid and the tears started flowing.  I then said to myself God is in control and I stopped crying.  I began to think about my survival. I then started praying and thinking about all the children and people I have helped and I knew God was with me.  I called Nora and told her about the stage 3 cancer.   She said don’t worry call my friend Carolyn who was diagnosed and was victorious in her battle with cancer.  I called Carolyn we started talking about my situation and her situation.  She was very encouraging and helpful with names of hospitals I should visit. I thanked God for her wisdom, knowledge and support. I could go on and on about my journey with cancer, but now I’m on a new journey of being cancer free.  I’d like to give thanks to all my supporters.  First I’d like to say thanks to God who is my savior.  My daughters; Temika and Charnisa (son in laws Shain and Garland).  My sisters; Gladys, Regina, Doris, Latoya and Sonja.  My good friends; Nora, Lula, Brenda, Ethel, Val and Mrs. Opal and newest friend Carolyn. All my new found friends in Georgia ; Ms.Mary, Michelle, Raymond, Velma, Barbara, Victoria, Tyrecia, Joann, Patrick Bridgewaters, Margret, Angel & Jimmie, Temika, Toya, Cody, Crystal, Marlene, Mr. Dennis, Joel, Derwin and anyone I may have forgotten.  Thank You God!!  

Janet D. Hall

Discovery and Diagnoses

One Tuesday evening in One Tuesday evening in  February of 2014 like any other in Miami Florida. Hot and sticky, I showered dry myself and  began my normal Self examination of my breast. A routine I have been doing for over thirty years after a close friend died from breast cancer.  As usual, I allowed my hand to move deliberately and slowly over my breast with confidence as I felt assured that the result would be the same. Nothing New would be discovered.  Imagine my shock when my hand passed over a obvious mass in my right breast. The mass felt like pieces of rocks. My hand froze over the mass and I began to break out in a sweat, not a sweat from the Miami heat, but the cold sweat of fear. Thus, I began the longest night of my life. I had to wait until morning comes, before I could call my doctor, or anyone else for the matter. In the meantime sleep would not come. I prayed and cried throughout the night Finding hope and faith from my strong belief in God.

 Action – Prognosis and Outcome

   The next day, I found new strength from the night before, and I  took my first  step to combat this evil Monster inside my breast.  Sometime later on, I arrived at Aventura Hospital where a mammogram was performed. I was then asked to bring in a copy of my last mammogram from when it was last done. The very next day I was on it.  after analysing the the record, I was told this was not a new finding. however it was NEW News to me. My doctor ordered a battery of tests after he confirmed the mass after his examination of my breast.   The tests include sonograms, biopsies, blood tests  and numerous laboratory tests, all of which confirmed Cancer. By then my  cancer was at stage 2 and learning that it was the aggressive type only worsened  my fear. It was  the type known as HR2 positive. This means that I needed a targeted treatment to fix me. My first rounds of treatment was the  NeoAdjuvant chemotherapy, this was a shock to my entire system and my psyche. The day after my first rounds of chemotherapy, I found my hair on my pillow when I woke up. You can not imagine the shock and awe that passed through me, as I stared down at my beautiful hair laying on the pillow. My balding head was now a mass of pain and soreness. I loss my finger nails my toe nails, and my face swelled up like a balloon as a result of the chemo. To combat the pain I had to take several kinds of painkillers, because none of them was working for me anymore.  I had become  tolerable to the med. On top of that, I develop a massive blood clot in my neck and in the brachiocephalic, this is an artery  that supplies blood to the right arm the head and the neck, and it was in that same area where the chemo port was placed.  Much confusion existed during my chemo treatment. The port which send the med through my vein in my chest, had to be changed several times due to infections and the fact that the port kept moving within my chest walls. The pain was just unbearably Hellish pains.  As if that was not bad enough, I had to take a blood thinner called Lovenox. It is an anticoagulant that is used to treat and prevent certain type of blood clot called  deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and could lead to (pulmonary embolism) blood clot in the lungs. One of the most baffling and frustrated thing I had to do during this crucial time in my struggle was that I had to administered this drug to myself using an hypodermic needle. The whole process was pure sufferation, comfort could not be found. I could not eat or swallow. I could not  taste or smell  my food or anything, I could not sleep. I could not process a clear thought.  But somehow I was able to pray. In those very moments, all I did was ask God to help me survive.  Through all of that I found new strength, I also found new friends. Thanks to Russell Hughes and his connections with Mrs,Carolyn Lewis, who had gone through cancer treatment herself. I thank all the people involved in my treatment and my caring. Today marks two years from that faithful February day in 2014. I am alive and for that I thank God. I must say that prayer works, but it also takes medical intervention for which I am also grateful. The cancer no longer need the aggressive treatment that I had in the beginning, and I continue to take medication to keep the cancer cells at bay. I am not sure when Normality will return in my life, but I am taking it one minute one hour and  one day at a time. My name is  Janet D. Hall. For any further information, I can be contacted at (786) 4198345  Thank you.

Lillymae Benjamin

The fact that you are a woman, you face a  high risk of developing breast cancer, this risk is even higher for being a black woman.  In the summer of  June 2015, while taking a shower I decided to do the regular monthly routine of breast examination – feeling for lump(s) or any form of disorder.  Although I did not expect anything out of the ordinary since I had no prior family history of breast cancer, I wwentahead and started the process of breast examination.  As I moved my fingers around towards the left side of my left breast, I felt a small mass.  I was a bit taken aback, but I kept calm and decided to make an appointment the very next day to see my doctor.

After doing his examination, my doctor agreed that I had to have a mammogram done and done as quickly as possible. By August  I was on my way doing chemotherapy.  This in itself is a journey, a difficult and treacherous one.  One that is also described as the bridge between life and death.  I got through chemotherapy with strong prayer from my family, church family, and friend.  During this time I developed a closer walk with Jesus.  My favorite scripture that held me together was and still is St. Mathew 7 verse 7-8  Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.  For everyone who asketh received…  For me, this was a strong promise. We know that Jesus never goes back on his promises.

On the 25th March, I was scheduled for surgery.  It was after I came home from my doctor’s  visit that I realized that my surgery was scheduled for Good Friday – the day that Jesus was crucified (this marks a new beginning in the life of a Christian).  The surgery was a great success  – my surgeon was excited by the result of the surgery.  He said it was almost unbelievable that what was removed from my breast was a very tiny flat mass.  He then said to me that for a result like this you must have been praying. I said to him yes, my church family prayed and prayed without ceasing.  My radiation treatment was also a great success.

But I must say, through all my ups and down, and going through therapy and treatments, I never stop working.  I taught my students just as before and the result was alarming _ I had a 97% passing in the exam they took. Whatever you do, you must always put Jesus at the forefront, allowing Him to take charge and to do what is best for you.  Remember prayer changes things.

Gisela Cárdenas

During our last week in Italy together, my sister became worse. Hearing the advice of doctors we consulted, my mother flew my sister back to our home country, Ecuador. Unfortunately , I was forced to leave their side and go back to Miami to register my children for school. The very next day, while playing with my precious daughter, I inadvertently felt a tiny grain on my breast. Thinking it was sand, I paid it no mind at the time. Another day later,v my mother called me to let me know that my sister’s health was deteriorating, and that I needed to get to Ecuador ASAP.

Unbeknownst to us all, my health was deteriorating as well.

That same night, my mom called me and delivered a heartbreaking message: my sister has gone to be with the Lord above. Immediately, I purchased a 5:00am ticket to Ecuador. When I arrived, I felt an overwhelming combination of sadness and fear; sad because my beloved sister was no longer with me, and fear because I began to realize that the grain on my breast was getting considerably bigger.

After burying my little sister, my mother noticed I was distraught. Though she seemed concerned, I avoided her questions because I did not think it was important, especially while we were both grieving the loss of my sister. But eventually, I gave in and told her about the growth in my breast, and she advised me to see a doctor while we were still in Ecuador. The next morning, after multiple checkups and consultations, the doctor informed us that there was a strong possibility that I had breast cancer. My mother took me to see two other doctors, and they said the exact same thing. Seeing as there was a strong chance that I actually had breast cancer, the doctors recommended a biopsy as soon as possible.

After hearing the news about my condition, I could not help but feel bad for my grieving mother. She just buried one of her daughters, and now she had to worry about another one of her kids dying of illness. After doing everything I could to comfort her, I traveled back to Miami to see my own doctor. By the time the doctor checked me, the cancer had already spread throughout my breast at an alarming rate. I had no choice but to go through a mastectomy that removed 16 cancer glands. It was very difficult because I had no family in Miami. In less than three weeks, the breast cancer skyrocketed from Stage 0 to Stage 4. My doctor was shocked, calling it “one of the most aggressive cancers” he had ever seen.

Due to my condition and the treatments it required, I had to stay in Miami. It was extremely difficult not having much family by my side, and it was hard for me to stay positive. But God works in ways that we may never understand, but will always be aware of! When I was going through the excruciating process of dealing with breast cancer, my sister in Christ Carolyn Lewis, along with her pastor and other members of her church, served as guardian angels of the Lord on Earth. They visited me, cleaned for me, and even made home-cooked meals for me. Without a doubt, I truly believe that they were a blessing sent by God, and I do not know if I would be alive if God had not sent them to my aid. I pray that God continues to care, protect, bless, and use them at His will.

Thanks to the merciful, loving God I serve, I can stand before the world and say that I am now completely cured of cancer!

God Bless You All,

Gisela Cárdenas

Katrina Baskins

My name is Katrina Baskins, and I am a cancer survivor.  It all began when I visited my gynecologist in 2008 for a routine check-up.  He felt a lump during the exam and advised me to go for a follow-up.  I did not go immediately and waited 6 months as I  Brushed the urgency to the side.  When I finally followed up I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.  Early detection is extremely important and I wished I had gone sooner but nevertheless, I followed the Doctors orders and went through an ordeal of treatment and recovery for 6 months. Five years later, the cancer returned, and I was devastated, but I knew that God will never leave me and with the support of friends like Carolyn Lewis as well as family, I made it through once again.  Every day is a journey but I am grateful and thankful for every waking moment.