Jamil Rivers was diagnosed with metastatic de novo breast cancer just a month before her 40th birthday. Her husband had already battled cancer twice. It was a devastation to the mother of three, who was used to being the caretaker in her family. She was battling the task of being the superwoman to her family. How was she going to manage treatment, take care of her family and take care of herself?
At age 16, Rivers discovered she had fibrocystic breasts. She had the benign cysts drained, which causes her breasts to change texture. After suffering a miscarriage in 2015, her right breast remained engorged and fuller than the left. Initially, her OB-GYN thought it may be due to a blocked milk duct since her right breast was always the breast that produced the most milk when she breastfed.
Two years later, she experienced a cold that wouldn’t go away so she decided to request an ultrasound, which revealed lesions in her liver. Next, she received a biopsy and was diagnosed with stage IV hormone-positive breast cancer.
Self-education and empowering others
After being diagnosed, Rivers decided that approaching it with laser-focused determination would be the only way to understand what the battle ahead would entail.
She began drafting daily checklists that helped her navigate doctor’s appointments and medications. She spent close to a year on intravenous chemotherapy, which shrunk her tumors. She also had her ovaries removed to suppress estrogen. Currently, her ongoing treatment includes endocrine therapy. After a year of chemotherapy, others began noticing her approach to handling cancer and turned to her for advice.
“They would say, ‘Oh, you seem to be doing okay, can you share what you know?’” the mother of three says. “I was so focused on helping myself. It was just one day at a time, going to chemo, coming home, taking care of the kids and doing what I had to do. You never know who you’re inspiring when you’re just putting one foot in front of the other.”
This led to Rivers making the decision to share her checklist with other women to inspire them. From there its popularity grew.
“I’m one of those Type A project management type people,” she laughs. “But I find most people aren’t like that – they are devastated and