A Breast Cancer Survival Story
Khalilah Griffin, age 44, is a mom and an educator in New York City. She grew up in Georgia (@GaPeach76 is her IG handle,) and has lived in Harlem, in New York City, for the past 17 years. Her energy fills the room. Her laugh is infectious.
Khalilah, (nickname: Khai,) was 32 years old when she received the diagnosis of breast cancer.
With a strong family history — over the years, her grandmother, mom, and two aunts each received the same diagnosis — Khai was proactive and requested that her insurance company approve a baseline mammogram when she turned 30.
Because age 40 was the recommended age for a first mammogram at the time, Khai had to show lots of documentation as proof of her family history. She says the process was convoluted and complex each time.
The first two annual exams showed no evidence of cancer, but she received what she called the ‘dreaded news’ at age 32.
“You know when they don’t call you after an exam or test, that everything is fine. But when the phone rings, and the doctor requests that you come into the office, you know it’s dread. My call was on a Friday.
What really upset me then was the date of the appointment – they set it for eight days later. How dare you do that to me?”
With a five-year old son, and a mom whose health required Khai’s caregiving, she asked a close girlfriend to accompany her to her appointment.
She received the news that she already knew.
“They found cancerous cells in the left breast, but it was so dispersed, that the breast couldn’t be saved. A lumpectomy wasn’t an option.
Can you imagine being 32 … you know, I was young, I was pretty, I was vibrant, and healthy. I wanted a husband, a father for my child! And then you get a diagnosis that you have to take off the entire breast.”
Khai got three medical opinions. “Because my mom was into wholistic and natural options, I even considered that route. I took the gene typing test – I don’t have the gene.
They couldn’t reassure me that it wouldn’t come up again, or that I wouldn’t get it in the other breast, and I made a very difficult decision.
By removing both breasts, I’ve removed all risk. If I end up with cancer again, it won’t be breast cancer."
Khai’s diagnosis and treatment didn’t require chemotherapy or radiation. She opted for full reconstruction, a process that took a total of six years.
Today, Khai is healthy, still vibrant, and still fine, and thriving. She is a living testament and witness to the power of proactiveness and positivity.
To see Khai’s full story in her own words, and her advice for others, click here.