I remember it like it was yesterday. “You have breast cancer.” Those words are seared in the minds and hearts of so many women daily. For me, my day was July 1, 2002. I initially discovered the lump myself and it was confirmed by a mammogram and a biopsy. I was just three-weeks shy of my 40th birthday. I was so looking forward to turning 40. It was a milestone year. I had a trip scheduled for Montego Bay, Jamaica. It was my “Renee Gets Her Groove Back Year.” But after my breast cancer diagnosis, my mind immediately turned to my two young children. The questions swirled through my head about their future. I was a single parent. What would happen to them if I died? Would their father be able to handle two small children on his own? This would be devastating to my mom if I died. My affairs were not in order. It was so much I needed to do to prepare for my passing. I wasn’t ready.
But then I stopped thinking about death and I set my mind on living. Breast cancer is not an automatic death sentence. I listened to my wonderful team of doctors at Howard University Hospital. Dr. Dewayne Dewitty told me to take my trip to Jamaica for my birthday. He scheduled my surgery for August 17th, 2002. I had a radical mastectomy followed by six months of chemotherapy and then reconstructive surgery.
I would be lying if I said the ordeal was a piece of cake. It was indeed tough. But for the first time in my life, I learned the value of leaning on others. I had a wonderful set of supportive family members, friends, co-workers, and other women who had walked in my breast cancer shoes. When I was too sick to get out of the bed, someone was there to lift me up. When I got down and depressed and asked God why me, there was someone who told me about the value of faith. Needless to say, I conquered breast cancer. While I have had several breast cancer scares over the years, I live beyond the FEAR of the disease.
Breast cancer is my testimony. It has taught me the value of living for today. Breast cancer has taught me the importance of not sweating the small stuff. Breast cancer has taught me the urgency of finding the time to laugh and to take time for me.
So as we take time to recognize this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I stop and pray for the many women and men who are living through the battle. I stop to take time to ask God for strength for their families and other loved ones. I stop to remember and honor those who have transitioned from the disease. I stop to remind every woman to make sure you do your monthly self breast exams. I stop to remind every woman and man to know your family’s medical history. I stop to remind every woman 40 and older (and even younger) to get that mammogram. I stop to pray for the doctors, nurses, researchers, those participating in clinical trials. I stop to ask God to give someone the wisdom to FIND A CURE. I stop to remind YOU to LIVE!!!
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Renee Nash, Director of Information and Public Affairs for WHUR, is a well-respected journalist who has covered a range of issues from local and national politics, to healthcare reform and civil rights. She has also spearheaded numerous award-winning projects including radiothons, town hall meetings and food and clothing drives. Over her 25-year career at WHUR, she has been a writer, reporter, producer and anchor. Renee serves on the boards of many organizations including the Edith P. Wright Breast Cancer Foundation and Sisters of Hope. She is the proud mom of Dominique and Delante.