Cancer: If it happened to me, it could happen to you

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Quote: Finally, just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly. – Anonymous.

My journey with cancer began not with me, but with my mother

Left to right: Me, My daughter Madison & Mom

I’m Kerri Conner. It was April of 1998. I had just graduated from Howard University and I was studying to become a CPA so I could work side by side with my mother in her accounting firm (Anita T. Conner & Associates, P.C. – Home of the Tax Divas) (www.atconnercpa.com).

This particular April was no different from any other. We were swamped doing tax returns trying to make the April 15th deadline.  As an accountant, I quickly learned that everything had to be put on hold until after the tax deadline and that life as I knew it would resume the day after.

Little did I know, was that this April 16, 1998 my life would be changed forever. It was on this day, that my family and I learned that my mother, who was only 41 years old, had an advanced stage of breast cancer.

I was 23 years old, I did not know ANYTHING about breast cancer. I did not know ANYONE who had the disease, and I had no idea what to expect. What I did know was that my family was devastated and this could not be good.

The ironic thing about my mom’s situation was that she had felt a lump in her left breast for years. She did tell the doctors about the lump and the discomfort it caused, but they all said the same thing….She was too young for it to be breast cancer. It was not until she was going in for a routine procedure that the doctor said “Let’s do a biopsy…you are here…and it can’t hurt.

By the time, the cancer was detected, my mother had a high stage three cancer, and it had begun to spread to her lymph nodes. My mother’s routine procedure turned into a total hysterectomy and a radical mastectomy.

I will never forget that day.  It was the longest surgery ever. My family took shifts coming to the hospital and sitting with me. When the doctor came out to give us a status…he took my father and I to a little room…it was here he told us to pray for a miracle. He told us the cancer had spread and it did not look good. My mother’s doctor was preparing us for the worse.

Mom’s Treatment Plan

I knew that the Lord was going to heal my mother. I watched her go through, high dose chemotherapy treatments (sometimes 10 x’s the standard dose) stem cell transplant, 80 radiation treatments, reconstruction surgery and 10 years of preventative medicine. I watched her go through set back after set back and yes, it was extremely difficult for me to watch.

I am proud to say that 13 years later…my mother is alive…my mother is well…and my mother is sharing her story, so other women will not have to go through what she went through. And I am also still working with my mother at our accounting firm as we had planned.

 

What Came Next

As a result of my mother’s journey, I became a breast cancer advocate. I learned that African American women get the disease less often than other ethnic groups, but are dying at greater rates. I wanted and needed to do something to promote awareness about this disease.

Hence, we started Praise Is The Cure.  A program under our non profit – the George E. Thorne Development Center (www.getdc.org) geared towards African American women – motivating, educating and encouraging them to get breast health screenings and treatments.

 

April 16, 2008 – My mother’s 10 year anniversary of being cancer free

I wish I could end my story right here, but I can’t….As my mother was recovering over all these years and as we were spreading the word and educating our community…God had other plans in mind.

In 2008, April 16th to be exact, 10 years to the day that my mother was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer, I too was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. I was 33 years old and I had a two year old daughter. My family and friends were devastated. My mother blamed herself for my disease. Little does my mother know…is that I credit her for my survival. I thank God every day for allowing me to watch my mother go through what she did. It was her faith, her determination, and her strength…that showed me that I to could do this.

Like my mother’s cancer, my cancer was spreading fast. I had a round of high dose chemo, a double mastectomy, another round of high dose chemo, radiation treatments, and just when I thought I was finished, the doctors found another lump, so I did two more years of chemo, reconstruction surgery, and five years of preventative meds. When I looked back over this time period, I realized I had 6 surgeries in a 2 year time period….. But to God be the Glory….I am Still Standing.

One year after my diagnoses, two more young African American mothers at my daughter’s day care were diagnosed with breast cancer. It was then, that I knew what God wanted me to do. He wanted me to share my story with these women and their families. He wanted me to encourage an inspire them to NEVER give up despite what life threw their way. So I wrote the children’s book… “My Mommy Has Breast Cancer, But She Is Ok!” (www.mymommyhasbreastcancer.com). My goal is to raise money for breast cancer awareness while encouraging our women to fight. All the proceeds from the book go to the Praise Is The Cure (www.praiseisthecure.org)  initiative so we can continue to encourage and inspire families to take action.

1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her life time. A woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every 3 minutes in the US. This means that by the time you are done reading this, there will be 3 women that have been diagnosed. And if they are African American they are at greater risk of dying than any other ethnic groups.

Don’t think because you are young you can’t get the disease.

If it could happen to me, it could definitely happen to you.

If it does, will you be ready to take the journey? If I can do it, so can you. This blog will offer you support, hope and information on living with a cancer diagnosis of any sort, plus tips and interviews on ways to survive, during what is a difficult process. I encourage you to share your stories, tips and ideas as well.

 

 

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24 comments “Cancer: If it happened to me, it could happen to you”

Very inspiring! I’m scheduled to have my mammogram next month. I hate doing it, but I know it’s the right thing to do for me, my parents, my husband and my children.

Thanks Deborah for your comments. I am glad to hear you are getting your mammogram next month and you are taking good care of yourself. Too often, we are taking care of everyone else and forget about ourselves. I am glad to see that you understand you can take care of NO ONE without first taking care of yourself. Please keep encouraging others :)

Kerri M. Conner
Http://Twitter.com/MommySurvivor (this is optional, but let’s people connect with you there)

I think this is an awesome article. Keep up the awesome work Kerri. You are an inspiration to many!

Thanks Nasser. None of this would be possible without you and Cathy. I really have an awesome team who believes in my cause.

What a testimony! I feel like praising God for you. Beautifully written and definitely inspirational even if you are blessed not to have breast cancer. You remain in my prayers.

As you know…when the prayers go up, the blessings come down. Please continue to pray for me :)

Thank you for sharing your story. You and your family are blessed. I plan to take better care of myself and share your website with my girls.I agree that this is beautifully written.

Thanks Babette for the comments. Yes, we must take care of ourselves.

KCM ~ I am so thankful to have you in my life and I am sure so many other women feel the same…you are encouraging, inspiring, motivational and a true survivor. Keep up the good work God has so much in store for you. Love You Much!

Love you too!!! And I thank God for you.

Kerri your story is truly inspirational to those who have and unfortunately from a statistical perspective will be challenged by this disease. However, your journey is truly one of highlight faith, determination, strength and courage. It brings to aids in killing the myth that the words “breast cancer” is not synonymous with “death sentence”. What I have observed is your mother and your’s work to ensure the continuum of care for children are not broken by those women who have been diagnosed with this disease. Your work with Praise Is The Cure has been an invaluable resource for under served women who would otherwise not have the means to obtain breast health information, screening and support. Keep you the GREAT work!!!

Wowww…I don’t know what to say. Thank you for the kind words, and most definitely the support. You have really summed up EVERYTHING I an trying to do with my story.

Kerri, you are an inspiration. I so admire you for speaking out. I will be sure to tell people about your book! My best wishes to you and your mother.

Thanks Idelle. I will be sure to let people know about your book and blogs as well. Thanks again for the support.

What a testimony! I thank and praise God for you and your Mother. Sometimes God takes us to places we would rather not go. But He knows who to allow these trials to show that He is really in charge. You and your Mother are two of His choices. Since He made you, He knew you were the ones to show us His power of healing. May God continue to bless and keep you and your Mother in His loving care.

Thank you Vernetta. Be blessed as well.

What a testimony! I thank and praise God for you and your Mother. Sometimes God takes us to places we would rather not go. But He knows who to allow these trials to show that He is really who He says He is and to let us know He is truly in charge. You and your Mother are two of His choices. Since He made you, He knew you were the ones to show us His power of healing. May God continue to bless and keep you and your Mother in His loving care.

Hi, Kerri, I’m Davita’s friend. I’m 37 and was diagnosed with cancer the day before Thanksgiving. Looking back, I’m thankful that it was caught when it was. I hadn’t wanted to get a biopsy, but my husband insisted and my family doctor concurred. I have stage II, triple 3 negative. I’m 1/3rd through my chemo treatments. (Surgery and Radiation are in the future, but I take each day as it comes since otherwise I’d feel overwhelmed. )

You and your mom are two brave women. God bless you both!

Noelle, I am so sorry to hear that you have to go through this. I call tell you that it is a journey and that everyone’s journey is different. If you ever have questions about what you are going through, please shoot me an email or give me a call. It can be very scary when you do not know what to expect. It may also bring you some comfort to know that some of the things you are feeling are normal. I pray that you will have the strength to continue to fight, fight, fight. I would love to send you something. Please email me you contact information at info@mymommyhasbreastcancer.com.

Continue to have faith and believe.

Kerri Conner Matchett
@mommysurvivor

Kerri, thanks so much for your book which has already been an encouragement to me. Also thanks the comfy pink slipper socks a thoughtful gift. Your package arrived in the mail yesterday which was fast. The timing is perfect since I have my third treatment later this morning. Your book was the inspiration for my most recent group e-mail to my family and friends. I also went over to Amazon and left a review. Wishing you a wonderful week in spite of the busyness. (Who is busier than a tax accountant in the Spring?) Take care! Noelle

Thank you Noelle. I am glad you got everything and I hope the book inspires you to continue to fight. Enjoy everything, most importantly life. Also, feel free to contact me if you EVER have any questions or just need to talk.

Good luck with everything.

I’ve shared your book this morning with my work team and the one nearby about 12 or so women. Very positive response! I work with a great bunch of ladies. (Davita informed me that buying directly from this site is cheaper than going through amazon. I will send a followup e-mail later to re-direct any who might be interested.)

Ohhhh Noelle, Thank you so much for the support and for spreading the word. You don’t know how much this means to me. I know you are going through alot right now and you are working to help me with my mission. What a woman you are!!!

The proceeds from the book do support breast health awareness initatives here in Philadelphia. In particular they go to a program called Praise Is The Cure. And yes, I run a special offer when people purchased the book directly through my site.

I also saw the amazon review you gave me. AWESOME!! I am trying to get more, so if you know someone, please ask them to write a review for me on amazon.

Noelle, continue to be blessed and I hope we stay in touch.

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I found out on Thursday I have breast cancer. I am a mother of a set of 5 year old twins and I am terrified. I have my first appointment with an oncologist tomorrow. I don’t know how to process this but your story is inspiring. Hopefully I get to beat it and share my story too. Till then keep me in your prayers.


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