SOROR BENZIE BRINSON: FIGHTER. SURVIVOR. INSPIRATION.

Breast Cancer Survivor Soror Benzie Brinson

SOROR BENZIE BRINSON: FIGHTER. SURVIVOR. INSPIRATION.

Three of her mom’s seven sisters had breast cancer. Her cousin she was very close to her died of breast cancer in 2013. In 2014, Soror Benzie Brinson was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. But, instead of seeing it as a death sentence, as many would, Soror Brinson decided she didn’t have time for it. She buckled in and set her mind to winning the fight for her life. Winning is exactly what she did.

“I didn’t have time for that drama,” she says. “I could either get busy living or get busy dying. I had too much living to do.”

She’s a wife, mother, educator, friend, mentor, and most importantly a woman of God. He clearly had more work for her to do.

A SIGN BEYOND THE GRAVE; DIAGNOSIS

Soror Brinson began to get annual breast cancer screenings in her 40s. All of them came back negative for breast cancer.  But It was a breast cancer warning sign her late cousin shared with her before she died that prompted her to take her annual screening a step further.

“Before she died my cousin told me that an inverted nipple was a sign of cancer,” she shares. “One morning when I was looking in the mirror, I noticed that my nipple was pushed inward.”

Recalling her cousins word of caution, she made and appointment, and was subsequently diagnosed with breast cancer.

A DRAMA-FREE FIGHT FOR HER LIFE

She insisted that she was not about the drama of breast cancer. So, when she shared what she was going through with people, it was on a need to know basis. When those that needed to know responded with pity and tears, she shut them down.

She needed support. She needed prayers. She would eventually need a little help. But, she didn’t need pity and tears and grief. She was not dying and was not about to let anyone put her in an early grave. She was living. She had too much to live for. She was poised to fight and that she did.

Soror Brinson educated herself about breast cancer, learning that the annual screenings only went so far. After all, the screenings had missed the cancer that the doctors said had to have been growing in her body for at least three years. Frustrated and angry, she turned this part of her testimony into a message.

“If it looks like something is off with your breasts, get them checked,” she advises. “Push for doctors to go beyond the routine screenings. Demand they give you the best screening.”

With purpose and passion, she encourages all women to get their screenings, pay attention to their bodies, and do preventive care.

If you’ve never had a breast exam, she encourages, “It’s never too late to start. Definitely get it. Don’t make any assumptions about your body.”

GO BEYOND THE NORM

Soror Brinson says breast cancer awareness walks and funding research are is fine, but ultimately, there is a need to go beyond entry level prevention.

“The government doesn’t really require the appropriate level of prevention and care that should be provided,” she adds.

WISDOM FROM A BREAST CANCER SURVIVOR

“Your attitude determines your altitude,” she reminds us. “Work with your doctors. Surround yourself with people who offer support in words and in action.”

Most importantly, “Don’t focus on dying.”

As the year four survivor proclaims us, “I’m too busy living to focus on dying.”

Soror Karyn Wood Celebrates Soror and Survivor Vonselle Thomas

Breast Cancer Survivor and Fighter Soror Vonselle Thomas
Soror Vonselle Thomas and Soror Karyn Woods
My friend Vonselle Thomas and I were high school friends in Frankfurt Germany. Over 30 years later, we still hold true to our friendship each year we take a girls’ trip with another classmate.
In 2014, while planning our trip we get a conference call from Vonselle with the news she has a lump and it’s cancerous. While standing in the middle of the store, I fell to my feet from the shocking news.
A few weeks later she reported her course of treament.  Here is here story in her words:
I was September 2014 and had Surgery October 16, 2014. My diagnosis was ER/PR/HER2 Invasive Lobular Carcinoma.

I had five rounds of Chemo (one treatment a month for five months from November 2014 to March 2015). I’m taking a daily dose of 20mg of Tamoxifen. I call it my daily chemo. I have to stay on Tamoxifen for 10 years. They will reevaluate my therapy at that time. Tamoxifen attaches to the hormone receptor in the cancer cell, blocking estrogen from attaching to the receptor. Some of its side affect are bone pain, fatigue and hot flashes. I recently took the BRCA test to see if the type of Breast Cancer I had is hereditary.  

A member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority’s Omicron Pi Zeta Chapter of Niceville, Florida, Soror Thomas is a mother, sister, daughter, wife, friend and woman of God.

Soror Helen Thomas’ Daughter Shares Breast Cancer Survival Story

Soror Helen Thomas shares daughter Wendy's breast cancer survival story
Soror Helen Thomas and her daughter Wendy Edwards

I was 28 years old when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. At 47 years old, I can still visualize finding that lump in my breast. One morning, as I was getting out of the shower preparing for work, I felt a strange knot in my right breast. I remember thinking what was this, where did it come from, and why didn’t I feel it yesterday? I called my Mother and told her what I felt. In “Mommy Mode” as always, she told me to call my Dr.’s office and schedule a Mammogram. Normally, I wouldn’t listen to her and would say okay so she would leave me alone, but this time I listened. I called my Dr.’s office and told them I felt a lump. I scheduled a mammogram and waited for the results. I wasn’t worried. I was 28 and breast cancer didn’t run in my family. The pathologist read my results, confirmed there was a tumor, and he referred me to a breast surgeon. I went there for a biopsy which came back benign. I asked if I could have the lump removed because I didn’t feel comfortable with it in my body. My mother, the surgeon and I agreed to remove the tumor because that would be in my best interest.

In December 1999, I had the first of many surgeries to come. When the surgeon removed the mass from my breast, no one was prepared for its size. According to my surgeon, it was one of the largest he had seen at the time. He sent the tissue to the pathologist for additional testing, which was common.

By January of 2000, I was preparing to return to my job and went for my follow-up visit. At the time, I had no clue I wouldn’t return to until September of that same year. As I talked with my Dr., he told me they found cancer cells in the tissue that was removed. In shock, I ask if I was going to die. He said, he couldn’t tell me, no, and he couldn’t tell me yes. He asked if I believed in God. I said yelp, sure do. He said, then you need to pray, have faith that you will live, and be prepared to fight. I called my Mom when I left his office, I don’t remember what was said that was the only moment in time that I can’t recall. The next couple of months I had four additional surgeries, 13 weeks of chemotherapy and nine weeks of radiation. This was the biggest struggle of my life, but I survived.

Today I see life through a different lens. I appreciate every day for I was given a chance to live that most don’t get. I realize that the outcome isn’t always the same for everyone, and I don’t take that for granted. I try to remember no matter what I’m going through, I have to give it to God and let him help me fight my battles. I try to appreciate the small things in life and let the rest fall in place. I hope you enjoyed reading about my story and remember to smile; you might just brighten someone’s day.

Soror Angela Turner Celebrates Breast Cancer Survivor/Friend Candace Bivins

Soror Angela Turner Celebrates Breast Cancer Survivor Friend

Thirty plus years ago the Lord placed a great caterpillar in my life. Who knew what He had in store for us. She has since then beat cancer and blossomed into a beautiful butterfly. Hats off to my friend, my special person, and my survivor…..Candace Bivens Blakely. I love you to Life my butterfly!! #LivingherbestLife!! #Isaluteyou