I was diagnosed with breast cancer two days before Christmas 2010. As a 36-year-old married, devoted mother of two, the news was devastating and shocking to all of us. I had no lumps, no discomfort, no discharge—there was nothing to make me think I had breast cancer. One day I had the thought that I needed to get a mammogram. I now know that the “thought” I heard was the Holy Spirit. I scheduled a mammogram for the very next day. To my surprise, almost two weeks later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in both breasts. I had two different types of stage 0 cancer in my right breast, which were DCIS, non-invasisve malignant cells in the breast ducts, and LCIS, which are pre-cancerous cells indicative of a higher risk of breast cancer. In my left breast, the cancer was all DCIS including an area that was a more advanced stage 1A near a blood vessel. The stage 1A diagnosis meant that the disease was progressing but thankfully had not spread outside of my breast. The cancer didn’t cause me any physical pain, but it sure did scare the hell out of me!
I had both of my breasts removed during a bilateral mastectomy on February 11, 2011. After spending countless hours researching this disease and meeting with experts, I decided this was the best course of action for me. Having both breasts removed was a personal decision I made to decrease the likelihood of reoccurence. I didn’t want to spend year after year worrying about the possibility of the cancer coming back. I wanted this thing to be behind me for good. After my surgery, I decided not to do reconstructive surgery or wear breast forms. I’m confident and very proud of myself that I’m bold enough to show other women that if they get a mastectomy, it’s okay to buy more breasts or wear prosthesis, but it’s also okay if you don’t do any of that. Being alive is all that really matters! I’m so thankful that I didn’t have to do chemotherapy or radiation. Additionally, my onco type dx score was a 7. In the bible, 7 means completion! Therefore, I will continue to thank God everyday, for completely healing my body and for allowing me to be cancer free.
No longer am I devastated about the news I received that December, but I’m just thankful for the test that allowed me to have this testimony. Hopefully, I can encourage others that have been diagnosed and stress the importance of early detection. Sometimes, I look at pictures of myself when I had breasts and jokingly think, “What did I do? You two tried to kill me and I took good care of both of you for 36 years!” Shockingly, I don’t even miss them and my husband says I’m still gorgeous without them. Either way, they’re gone and the cancer is gone. I’m just so thankful that God has allowed me to have this experience as I’m so eager to share my story with the world.
Shondia McFadden-Sabari is the creator of Bold and Breastless, a movement that uplifts breast cancer survivors and shares resources through outreach and advocacy. She lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, with her husband Wali and their two children, Chase and Trinity.