October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and TV host and personality Ananda Lewis revealed she has been battling stage 3 breast cancer for the last two years. Now she’s sharing her story and some of the mistakes she felt she made as a cautionary tale for other women.
Lewis, 47, shared the news in a video message on Instagram yesterday. She began with an apology to any of her friends and family members who might be hurt over the fact she’s chosen to speak about her diagnosis publicly first.
“For a really long time, I have refused mammograms, and that was a mistake,” said Lewis, the former host of BET’s Teen Summit and The Ananda Lewis Show. “I watched my mom get mammograms for almost 30 years, and at the end of that, she had breast cancer, and I said, ‘Huh? Radiation exposure for years equals breast cancer. Yeah, I’m going to pass. Thanks anyway.’”
Although Lewis still stands by her belief that too much radiation can cause cancer, she does want women to understand that mammograms are still one of the most powerful tools they have in early detection and even she wishes she’d gotten one sooner. Because Lewis waited, she had to have two Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans done, which subjected her body to more radiation than annual preventative mammograms would have.
“If I had done the mammograms from the time they were recommended, when I turned 40, they would have caught the tumor in my breast years before I caught it through my own breast exam—self exam—and thermography,” Lewis said. “And they would have caught it at a place where it was more manageable — where the treatment of it would have been a little easier. It’s never easier, but I use that word in comparison to what I’m going through now. Instead, what I’m dealing with is stage 3 breast cancer that is in my lymphs. I need you to get your mammograms.”
Lewis chose an alternative treatment route after her diagnosis. “I have been doing 100 percent alternative and natural protocols and treatments and I have helped this particular condition not spread like wildfire through my body,” Lewis said while pausing to fight back tears. “That’s good news, but it’s not gone, and I still have a lot of work to do. And, I wish I could go back.”
Lewis promised her fans that she hasn’t given up and she won’t let breast cancer steal her joy: “I have a nine-year-old I need to be here for,” she said. “I have no intention on leaving him. I don’t want to leave any of my kids. I don’t want to leave my friends or my family. Hell, I don’t want to leave myself. I like being here. So, listen, this is not how this was supposed to go but I’m just going to keep it real with you like I always do.”
Lewis then made a special request for anyone watching: “I need you to share this with the women in your life who may be as stubborn as I was about mammograms and I need you to tell them that they have to do it. Early detection, especially for breast cancer, changes your outcome. It can save their life.”
Now that Lewis has revealed her diagnosis, she said she will be more open with her fans and share more updates on her health going forward.
“For me it was important to come to you and admit where I went wrong with this, because it could help you or someone you know,” said Lewis. “This is an ongoing journey for me.”
Learn more about the different types of breast cancer screenings here.