About four months ago I had pain my right breast, I paid it no mind, chucked it off as maybe hormones. As time went on and the tenderness turned to pain, not a constant pain but here it also with a burning pain in the same area. I mentioned it to friends and family occasionally, but it was thought to be maybe a cyst but nothing too serious because, I didn't not believe that breast cancer would cause pain.
I had just opened my newest and biggest location. There had been a lot of press, I was preparing to shoot a Christmas special for cooking channel ...one of my biggest film projects after my surprise at GMA. I was determined to make it a success. I thought my time was here, and if I kept pushing, my CheeseCaked would be able to run itself and provide for my kids.
One night after work, I was getting ready to take a shower and I noticed that same right breast was leaking a clear fluid. I immediately called my aunt who is an RN and she instructed me to run, not walk to get a mammogram. It was October now and it was breast cancer awareness month so my options were good. There were a few steps to take but I ended up at Piedmont Rockdale for a mammogram and ultrasound. I'm still thinking this is all going to be okay. I'm sure it's nothing serious. After the mammogram, the ultrasound tech said they had enough information to share with the radiologist and if there was nothing to be concerned about, she would return and let me know I was free to go. I waited knowing I would be on my way home in just a second and good to go. Besides, I had already earned my badge of honor by beating death twice and losing my 10 week old son in a drunk driver caused car accident...I was confident God would not do this to me ...but she walked in and said, "The doctor would like to see you". I said out loud "aww shoot". I headed into a room with lots of TV screens,and my breasts on all of them. Dr. Perez was a beautiful black woman, she said "Ms. Brown now I see what brought you in today but I also see something else that concerns me further back on your chest wall". Not only was there one lump that formed but now there were two. I asked "well are they cysts"? She said "No they are not cysts, they are masses and I don't know if they are cancerous. I am going to order a biopsy of both masses and we will go from there". Now I have to wait for the biopsy and then wait for the results. Talk about anxiety. Do I tell my children? My staff? My mom?
In the meantime I celebrated myself and my son Meritt's birthday with this sitting on my spirit. After Meritt"s birthday, I had the biopsy and it hurt...like hell.
On November 18th Dr Stiles called with the results. Both biopsies tested positive for cancer and he also saw an abnormal lymph node that he would assume would be positive for cancer as well.
I was home alone and dropped this ball. Now what do I do and who do I call first? What about my children? My business? My employees?
It was and still is an emotional rollercoaster. Do I close my business? They keep telling me stress will make it worse. Well being a business owner is extremely stressful. Do I have to pick between my business or my life? I don't have disability insurance because I am self employed. How will I support myself? How will I support my children?
Next stop...surgeon oncologist. My friend Alisha and her sister Ashley helped me pick the best oncologist in Atlanta Dr. Diehl. When I met him, he said it was a stage 2B and would order an MRI and lymph node biopsy but he was confident it would be positive as well and the cancer is also triple negative we need to move forward quickly.
Now I'm scared and immediately go into crisis mode. I debated between taking time off or letting someone run my business on my behalf. It would be hard to close the business have no income and my employees have to find new jobs but I need the time to focus on myself for once in a long time. Can I trust someone with my baby to hold it to the same standards as I would? I'm going to be bald...How will I look? I stayed in constant prayer.
I met with the chemo doctor, who in fact said I was at stage 3b and needed to get my treatment plan started immediately. I wouldn't be able to work much at all and my chemo went from being three months to five months. Whoa! This is way longer and more serious than I thought. My treatment plan is as follows.....5 months of chemotherapy, rest one month, have surgery to remove cancer, rest a month, radiation for six weeks, additional chemotherapy if necessary, then reconstruction surgery
At this point I'm scared to death. I'm scared for my children and my family. I mentally checked out of CheeseCaked. I was mentally paralyzed, I almost blamed CheeseCaked for my illness because if I had not spent the last 10 years of my life trying to build this brand I may have taken better care of myself. We opened here and there as I struggled with what God wanted me to do, I prayed constantly for a sign. Although it would briefly keep my mind off of what was happening, I couldn't be creative and I couldn't find my happy place there anymore. If I couldn't do my best and give my customers the best me I would rather take a step back and come back a better me.
Not really knowing my next step, was I have to trust in the Lord that me and my kids will be ok. I plan to sell as much equipment and supplies to raise money for the household to suffice us through the treatment plan and sacrifice what we will have to do so that I can concentrate on my health.
I reached out to the American Cancer Society looking for resources for breast cancer patients and they were full of information. They also suggested I start a fundraiser partnership with them for anyone out of state that may want to help. All of the money raised will be used for food, healing treatments, house cleaning services, wigs and other head garments, mortgage and utility bills, compression garments, parking fees and transportation fees to and from chemotherapy.
I am so grateful and overwhelmed by all of the love and support. I have such a strong support team and prayer warriors fighting WITH me I am confident I will make it to the other side and begin to inspire, encourage and fight with anyone ever fighting this battle.
I am a warrior for life! to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.