Carletta Cunningham isn’t just a breast cancer survivor, she is a champion in every sense of the word! A year after her father passed away from colon cancer, Carletta, now 43, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since completing her treatment in 2013, she has achieved her goal of completing a triathlon – four times over.
Here, she shares her story with BlackDoctor.org.
I never had the privilege of meeting my maternal grandmother, Charlene. She died at the age of 44 almost a year after her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. What her life and death impressed upon me was the importance of getting screened. Not only was it my grandmother’s death but the prevalence of cancer in my family which has always given me a good reason to stay proactive. My father, maternal grandfather, paternal grandfather, and several great uncles passed away after battling cancer.
After consulting with a doctor, I began getting mammograms at the age of 35 because I was at a higher risk for breast cancer at a young age due to my family history. The annual screenings were always normal. But, in March 2013, my doctor ordered additional tests because of pain I experienced under my arm when she conducted the breast examination portion of my annual physical. At the age of 41, a few years younger than my grandmother, I received my own breast cancer diagnosis- Stage IIb.
I had a double mastectomy, emergency surgery after the mastectomy, 16 rounds of chemo, and reconstruction procedures and surgery over the next 7 months.