My Story: Stage 4 Breast Cancer Survivor Uses Memoir To Heal A Nation
“One life to live. Many lives to touch.” That’s one of Karla Antoinette Baptiste’s guiding philosophies and she’s using the one life she almost lost to touch women’s lives all over the country. After being diagnosed with stage III breast cancer and wondering, “What now?,” the Dallas, TX resident documented her journey of triumphing over breast cancer – from diagnosis to the critical five year cancer-free anniversary. The Dig in Your Heels author shares her story of inspiration, courage and giving back with BlackDoctor.org.
In September of 2007 at the age of 34, I was diagnosed with breast cancer — stage III invasive ductal carcinoma to be exact. I had recently returned to the States after living in Paris, France for almost two years. It was my dream to live in Paris. I had obtained my MBA there and, like most graduates, I was on top of the world. I believed the best was yet to come.
However, the following year I received the devastating news that I had cancer. At first my doctor thought it was stage II but after the mastectomy and lymph node dissection I found out that the tumor was larger than suspected and the cancer had spread to 14 out of 24 of my lymph nodes which made it stage III.
Prior to surgery, I was hoping to avoid chemotherapy but once I got the more advanced diagnosis it was recommended that I go through aggressive treatment. Everything happened so quickly! I went from being a normal 30 something sitting on the couch watching TV to discovering a malignant lump in my left breast. Since that moment, my life was turned upside down and my survivor journey began.
I had a mastectomy of my left breast, 16 weeks of chemotherapy, six weeks of daily radiation, three botched reconstructive surgeries, and four years of hormone therapy. With my faith in God and help from family, friends, co-workers and a few strangers, I dug in my heels and made it through.
About two years into my journey…