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Deje’s Breast Cancer Journey: Embracing Strength and Resilience

In March 2023, my life took an unexpected turn when I discovered a lump in my right breast. This news shook me to my core. In this article, I will share the story of my journey, from the moment I found the lump to the decisions I made as a breast cancer survivor.


A Moment of Fear and Determination:

It was a regular night when I decided to perform a self-examination. While in the shower, I ran my fingers over my right breast, I felt a small, unfamiliar lump. Fear gripped my heart because deep down I knew and feared that this lump meant I had cancer. I called the advice nurse and explained what I discovered and was told to monitor the lump as lumps don’t always mean you have cancer. After ending my call with the advice nurse, I couldn’t keep my mind from wonder, “What if I have cancer?”. My thoughts began to consume me and fear plagued my mind as I come from a family with a history of breast cancer and actually experienced losing my grandmother to this disease. I tried keeping myself busy with work and coursework to keep my mind at ease. Three weeks after discovering and monitoring the lump, I finally scheduled an appointment with my doctor, but for some reason I decided not to go to my appointment. Instead of going to my appointment, I sat outside the hospital and cried inside of my car. I cried because I was scared, alone and feared the unknown. I cried for about two hours and later drove home. Once I arrived at my condo, I called my sisters who both work in clinical research and explained how I discovered a lump in my right breast three weeks ago. Of course my sisters were concerned with why I waited this long to tell them of my discovery and honesty I just didn’t feel like involving them or worrying them about my health. With encouragement from my sisters, I rescheduled my  appointment for a physical breast exam and that is when my journey began and my life as I once known it went down hill. During my physical breast exam my doctor confirmed there was a lump on the right side of my right breast. Three days after my physical I went in to Kaiser for a mammogram.

The Diagnosis: Unveiling the Truth:

With my sister by my side during my mammogram appointment, I felt loved and supported but in my mind I felt isolated as I feared nothing good would come from my mammogram results. It was in fact during my mammogram appointment when I felt in my gut that I indeed had some form of breast cancer because as I watched other patients come in and out of their appointments so swiftly, I on the other hand had to conduct multiple scans, and it didn’t help that I had breast implants- which if you don’t know, have to be displaced from the breast tissue during each scan. My mammogram was really painful, causing me to become upset and more afraid of my results. After a series of diagnostic tests, including painful mammograms and biopsies, I received the news that no one wants to hear. On April 5th, 2023, I was diagnosed with Stage 1B invasive ductal carcinoma. The weight of this diagnosis was heavy, causing me to isolate myself from family and friends. I spent several days in the house where I would just think of my son and cry because I only could think of the worse. In my mind I thought that I was dying and the thought of leaving my 5 year old son just didn’t sit right with me. I was confused, heartbroken, sad, angry and depressed all at once. No matter how encouraging my sisters , my mom or my dad were, in my head I was just as good as dead. I felt restless and helpless.


Choosing My Path: Empowered Decision-Making:

In the days that followed, I met my oncology team and I consulted with my healthcare team about the recommended treatment options. After meeting with my oncologist and my plastic surgeon, I began to find hope and self encouragement. Once my diagnosis was completely explained to me and the more I researched about the survival rate for my diagnosis, I began to feel more confident about what I was facing which helped shape my decision on my treatment plan.  While chemotherapy was not deemed necessary for my case, radiation therapy was suggested. However, after careful consideration and deep introspection, I made the decision to decline radiation treatment. Instead, I chose to undergo a bilateral mastectomy, a choice that empowered me to take control of my body and reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. being that I already had breast implants, I decided to undergo immediate breast reconstruction with implants to restore my sense of self and regain my confidence. At just the age of 31, I was nowhere near ready to go flat. So the options for immediate reconstruction felt like a personal win to me in this situation.


Embracing Hormone Therapy: A Commitment to Long-Term Healing:

As part of my treatment plan, I am currently undergoing hormone therapy for the next 10 years. This step is crucial in preventing the growth of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer cells. It is not always easy, but I am committed to this journey of endurance, knowing that each day brings me closer to long-term healing and a future free from cancer’s grip.


Seeking Resources and Support: Navigating the Bay Area:

Throughout my breast cancer journey, I have found solace and empowerment in seeking resources and support. The Bay Area, where I reside, offers a wealth of organizations, support groups, and medical facilities dedicated to serving breast cancer patients. Through my research, I have connected with incredible individuals who have become pillars of strength and inspiration as I navigate this challenging path.

However, as a BIPOC woman, I discovered that there was a significant disparity in representation and resources for BIPOC individuals like myself. It was disheartening to see the limited visibility of people who looked like me in the healthcare system, support groups, and awareness campaigns. The lack of representation made it challenging to find relatable role models and connect with others who shared similar experiences. Moreover, accessing appropriate resources proved to be an uphill battle.

Support services tailored to the BIPOC community were also lacking. It became evident that there was a need for culturally sensitive counseling, survivorship programs, and support groups that addressed our specific challenges and provided a safe space for us to share our stories and find support.

Addressing the lack of BIPOC representation and resources in the Bay Area requires urgent attention and action. It is crucial for healthcare institutions, policymakers, and community organizations to work together to improve access to care, increase diversity in the healthcare workforce, and provide culturally competent services. By addressing these disparities, we can ensure that the BIPOC community receives the representation and resources they deserve throughout their cancer journey.

It is my hope that by bringing attention to these issues, we can spark meaningful change and create a healthcare system that is inclusive, supportive, and equitable for all BIPOC individuals facing breast cancer in the Bay Area and beyond.



My journey as a breast cancer survivor has taught me the true meaning of strength and resilience. From the moment I discovered the lump in my breast, I made a commitment to face this challenge head-on, armed with determination and empowered decision-making. While the road ahead may be difficult, I am confident that I have the strength within me to overcome any obstacle. My story serves as a reminder that we have the power to take control of our health, make informed decisions, and seek support along the way. By sharing my story, I hope to inspire others facing similar challenges to embrace their inner strength and find solace in the journey towards healing. Together, we can overcome any obstacle and emerge stronger on the other side.

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