I relay to honor my maternal grandmother, mother and aunt who all died from cancer. I relay to honor my paternal grandmother, my close friends and myself who are all survivors of cancer.I relay and share my story in the hopes of inspiring others facing this journey called cancer.

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 39, I was devastated and I remember thinking that I was going to die, as my mother passed away at the age of 32 when I was only 11 years old from breast cancer. But here I am a survivor and in the best health than I have ever been.

Because I was diagnosed as being a carrier of BRCA1, one of the cancer genes, that puts me at high risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer. Based on that diagnosis, I opted to have a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction, bilateral oophorectomy (removal of my ovaries and fallopian tubes) and had to complete 4 rounds of chemotherapy.

To hear this news and to know that I would be losing my breasts was very horrible for me, but I did understand that it was necessary. The doctors told me from the onset to remain positive, this would be key to help get through everything. All surgeries went very well and being positive definitely helped. There were days that weren’t so good, but I just took one day at a time. Watching my body change so much through this process was the hardest part for me, not actually dealing with the cancer. After the mastectomy, I felt ugly for a time, but during the reconstruction I was able to start feeling much better about myself. Then it was time for chemo. My hairdresser suggested that I cut my hair to prepare for this. This was a blow for me, even though I knew it was going to happen. I had long, thick, healthy hair and it was my pride and glory, it was me. I loved my long hair and did not want to lose it. But guess what, I love it even more now, short and no more perms to deal with. I would have never cut my hair like this, but going through this process helped me to try something different.

On a brighter note, cancer also changed my life for the better. I have a renewed outlook on life, which is much more positive. I am doing positive things for me like trying to eat healthier, exercise and generally taking much better care of myself.

This journey through cancer was filled with many feelings including happy, sad, heartbroken, overwhelmed and so much more. I have learned through this that I must live life for today and start enjoying all that it has to offer. I am going to stop stressing over things that I cannot change and just live life to the fullest. Today, I love me.

Cancer picked the wrong diva… I beat cancer and I’m still fabulous.