Breast Cancer Awareness
Avis is soft-spoken and reserved. I immediately felt a sense of calm when I met her, and as we chatted about her journey to wellness. Avis is an educator living in Congers, New York. She grew up in The Bronx.
Two years ago, at age 49, Avis was diagnosed with Stage One breast cancer. With a family history and previous diagnosis of dense and cystic breasts, she had been getting mammograms and sonograms for many years. Over the years, she had had at least ten biopsies.
Avis wasn't completely surprised when she learned the diagnosis. She says that may be because her mom believes her to have strong intuition, psychic powers perhaps.
Avis has strong family support. In addition to her mom, she has three sisters and two children. The night of the news, they all rallied around her. Avis says the support is crucial to healing and peace of mind.
Avis had surgery to remove the malignancy and had to have a second surgery because follow up revealed the margins still contained cancer.
After the second lumpectomy, Avis had 20 rounds of radiation. She has been cancer-free ever since.
But her breasts don't look like they once did. They are a bit lopsided, she says, and that does make her feel down sometimes. But she really understands how blessed she is and that helps her feel better. Other women aren't so lucky, she says.
For women facing the same plight, Avis reiterates the importance of family support.
I asked what Avis learned about herself through the journey.
"I learned that I am stronger than I thought I was and I definitely couldn't have done it without my support system - including family and friends. I learned you have to approach difficult situations with optimism and faith. And, you cannot conquer anything without love."
Avis shares her story in her own words here.