My Story: “I Don’t Fight Alone!”
“I am a breast cancer survivor!” Like most survivors, Sylvia Newsome proclaims her survivor status loud and proud. The 50-year-old Mesquite, Texas resident was diagnosed with Stage II triple negative breast cancer in March 2016 after she found a lump while performing a self exam. “Six months prior to this I had my annual mammogram which was normal,” Newsome told BlackDoctor.org. Read on to learn about her journey and how she “keeps on keeping on.
BlackDoctor.org: Was the possibility of breast cancer something that was on your radar? Was there a history of it in your family?
SN: I have a large family history of different cancers. My family physician referred me for genetic counseling months prior to my diagnosis. Unfortunately, my insurance denied testing because I did not have enough of a family history even though my mother was a survivor and two of my cousins had all battled breast cancers.
BlackDoctor.org: Walk us through life after first receiving the diagnosis.
SN: Absorbing the stage II breast cancer diagnosis was a difficult realization. My husband, Willie, and I cried for nearly two weeks straight. Almost simultaneously, we stopped shedding tears and stated, “Okay, what’s next?”
BlackDoctor.org: Describe your treatment process. How did you overcome challenges?
SN: Diagnostic testing was done immediately and frequently to confirm the stage and type of breast cancer and implement a plan of care. After confirming that I had bilateral triple negative breast cancer, genetic testing was performed in which I tested positive for both breast and ovarian bracket genes (BRC1 and BRC2). My doctors then consulted with me and developed a plan of care which included: surgery to have a mediport (central line) implanted and infuse my first dose of chemotherapy the same day, chemotherapy for three months, a bilateral mastectomy with 11 lymph nodes removed and which 3 were positive for metastatic cancer on the pathology report. Then three more months of chemotherapy followed by six weeks of daily radiation. Later came my hysterectomy and this coming summer, I will finish with bilateral breast reconstructive surgery.
I think I am still overcoming challenges. I keep going and try to maintain a positive outcome by celebrating small milestones and speaking positive affirmations daily. I have learned to be at peace about my diagnosis and condition to continue to move forward and make progress. I keep on keeping on!