Surviving Breast Cancer


While the Christian world looked forward to December and the festive season, November 2003 signaled the beginning of the fight with breast cancer for 41-year-old Sandi Taylor.
Now nearly a year later she bravely retraces the steps to the point when her ordeal began. Sandi says she became curious about the pain and swelling in her breasts, and decided to visit her physician. It was this proactive decision that was to be her saving grace. A mammogram and subsequent biopsy confirmed that Sandi had breast cancer.
Fright and shock followed the revelation but for Sandi it was not the end of the world. “I adjusted pretty quickly and realized that that was the reality and there was nothing I could do to change that at that point in time so I just had to accept it and make the best of the situation,” she tells JIS News.Steely determination and a will to beat the odds brought out the combatant in her and she had good reason to fight.
” I have two daughters and they are my inspiration, they are my reason for surviving, there is no way I can leave them behind at this age where they are not yet ready to look after themselves, so I had to put up a fight. I had to tell myself that I am going to be better and this is just a bad patch that I am going through and I am going through it pretty quickly,” she says.
“Getting through it”, involved breaking the news to her 19 and 14-year-old daughters and undergoing a mastectomy. “They were devastated,” she reminisces. Sandi has not had reconstructive surgery yet, but every day for the next five years she will have to take one tablet as part of her treatment.
She says having lost a breast makes her feel no less of a woman. “As it relates to me being a woman, I don’t see myself differently, I don’t feel any differently, nothing changes as far as I’m concerned its just like losing a bad tooth, there are precautions you have to take. Outside of that, my life remains as normal as it has been prior to that.I go out dancing, still do things that I normally do,” she points out.
Where her job is concerned Sandi explains that she was ready to go back to work the week after surgery but had to spend eight weeks recuperating at home.
For her the months since then have been a learning experience. “It has taught me patience, it has strengthened my faith especially in the Lord, it’s made me more positive in terms of my outlook. It has enabled me to appreciate life so much more and a lot of things that I used to take for granted I have learnt to really appreciate them so much more, because you realize that anything can happen at any time and you are gone without even realizing that it’s upon you.”
Her experience has also left her with words of wisdom and advice for other women. “Do not be afraid of getting yourself checked. do not be scared because early detection is the key to life .we need to be very intimate with our bodies and know when there are changes happening to us and get it investigated immediately because that’s what is going to make the difference,” she urges.
Sandi has high praises for the support she found in family, friends and members of the Jamaica Cancer Society and the Reach to Recovery Support group of which she is now a member. “They counseled me, they mentored me, they shared with me, they encouraged me and through them also I was able to get a lot of the strength to fight and to stay positive and to move on with my life,” she recalls.
The Jamaica Cancer Society is observing October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with a series of activities under the theme “Early detection equals longer life-Please tell a friend.” The Society has embarked on an extensive drive aimed at promoting the importance of early detection and the importance of mammography as a detection tool for breast cancer. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer related deaths in Jamaican women and is second only to lung cancer worldwide.

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