My Story: “I Never Thought I Was At Risk"

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Celebrity fashion designer Barbara Bates has created outfits for numerous red carpet events and celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, Steve Harvey and Whitney Houston. Her big break came when she was introduced to Michael Jordan and began designing for him, which opened the door for many more clients. After two decades of success, Barbara’s world came crashing down when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in June of 2009.

When she felt a lump in her left breast, she wasn’t worried at first. Barbara had a biopsy on that breast when she was 27 and it turned out to be nothing. But from the urging of a friend, she made an appointment to have it checked out. At 1pm, after seeing the doctor for about three minutes, the doctor said, “You have breast cancer.” By 4:00pm that same day, she had an ultrasound, several lymph nodes under her arm removed, and a breast biopsy.

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“I was frozen for the rest of what they did; I was just frozen,” she says. “It was just a lot to take in. I never thought surely I was at risk, because I thought that only white women got breast cancer, or women with small breasts, or people with cancer history in their family,” she said.

Some of Barbara Bates Designs

Some of Barbara Bates Designs

Barbara decided to get a second opinion and began a long journey of treatment. Ultimately, she had a lumpectomy, then a port placed in her chest for easy access for her 14 chemo treatments. She received 35 treatments of radiation and one year of Herceptin. Through this process she lost all of her hair and a total of 20 pounds. The journey was…