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Pink Survivors

Karen Alleyne Means

“These are fake, my real one’s tried to kill me” ~Karen Alleyne Means
Cancer is a journey, but you walk the road alone. There are many places to stop along the way and get nourishment – you just have to be willing to take it. ~Emily Hollenberg

On July 8, 2008, my 39th birthday, on a follow up visit with my physician, I was told “you have cancer.” I sat there, like a deer in headlights, trying to comprehend what my doctor was telling me. I was alone. I told Shawn he did not have to accompany me, since I had told my doctor that my follow up appointment was on my birthday, and requested for him to change the appointment if the news was not positive. So my thinking was, all was good, since the office did not change the appointment. I guess my doctor lost the memo. I wanted to hurt him, not that I advocate violence, but how could he ruined my birthday. He must have not known that Shawn was on his way back from working in Tampa, and my three children were finishing up the plans for my surprise birthday party.

In my case, it was caught early. I am glad that I was my own medical advocate and insisted on my getting mammograms at an early age. I have two aunts on my mother’s side who were battling cancer, and my father’s sister was a 20-year breast cancer survivor. Even with my history, my OB/GYN at that time, did not consider me high risk since neither my mother nor sister had cancer. Did you know that the United States has the most cases of breast cancer in the world? That breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in American women right after skin cancer? On average, 112 women die from cancer every day or one every 15 minutes in the United States. I say enough is enough and it’s time to find a cure.

Joyce D. Singletary

I had to have a biopsy done after my doctor found something in my right breast. It turned out to be nonmalignant. I began having yearly mammograms. Doctors wanted to schedule me for another biopsy, this time for the left breast. My mother got sick and I had to postpone the test. I had a feeling something wasn’t right. I finally had the biopsy done and was informed that the finding were malignant this time. It was very hard on me. After the findings, I had to take another mammogram, an ultrasound, as well as an MRI, in order to locate and determine exactly how large it was. I was diagnosed with  stage 4 cancer and was scheduled for surgery in 2011.

Since the surgery, I have remained cancer free. I still have to have yearly mammograms and as well as visits with my doctor. I receive information in the mail, that keeps me informed about breast cancer. I feel that we as survivors, are supposed to share our stories with others. You never know who may come along and help you or who you may help. I met a woman in Tampa a few years ago who also had breast cancer. We became friends during my visit to Tampa and exchanged phone numbers. We would talk over the phone, from time to time, to comfort one another. After a while, I stopped hearing from her. I spoke to her family and was informed that her condition had gotten worse. During our last visit to Tampa, I asked one of her family members how she was doing and was informed that she had passed away. I was devastated because no one had informed me when it happened. We must talk to our loved ones. I don’t know how I would’ve made it without having the support of my family and close friends. It has helped me a great deal. 
I thank God for keeping me well and giving me the strength to carry on. 

Lilly Johnson

I am Lilli Johnson, a servant of Jesus Christ 65 year old Beautiful Black Queen. I am married (37 years), two children, and one grandson. I am retired from electronic work of 45 years. I always promised myself that at 50 years old I will retire that’s just what I did. I went back to school for Cosmetology, Nail Tech, Pedicure, Child Care, and some nursing.

This is my story
I had this disease for almost five years before I was diagnosed with Paget disease of the breast. Paget disease is a rare type of cancer involving the skin of the nipple and, usually, the dark circle of the skin around it. Most people with Paget disease of the breast also have one or more tumors inside the same breast. Thank God I only had one, and healed of the disease.

Paget disease occurs in both women and men, but mostly in women. Approximately 1 to 4 percent of all cases of breast cancer also involved Paget disease of the breast.

Doctors do not fully understand what causes Paget disease. The accepted theory is that cancer cells from tumors inside the breast travel through the milk ducts to the nipple become cancerous on their own. This is why a few people develop Paget disease of the breast without having a tumor inside the same breast.

To God be the Glory for the great things He has done in my life. In May 9, 1999 I was healed of (2) Aneurysm, and December 7, 2006 I was healed of this deadly disease. PINK IS KNOWLEDGE.

Sheryl Williams

My name is Sheryl Williams. I am a wife, mother of 6 children and a grandmother of 2. My story began with my yearly mammogram, in March 2010. The nurse showed the images to the doctor who in return asked for more pictures because they saw some tiny white specs that she called calcium deposits. The nurse assured me it was nothing. A few weeks later I received a notice that a MRI was being recommended. I took the MRI in April 2010 only to get a call that the machine was not working properly and I needed to re-take the MRI. When I finally took the second MRI, it was June 2010.

I received a call that my Gynecologist was referring me to a breast specialist. I visited the specialist in June 2010 and she conducted an ultra-sound, were she saw the calcium deposits. She sent me for a biopsy and said she felt it was only a precaution that she doubted that it was anything since I had no history of breast cancer in my family. When I returned for the follow up exam, I could see something different in the doctor’s eyes. She wasn’t as cheerful as she was the first visit. I could remember thinking that I needed to brace myself because I had been experiencing some mild pain in my left breast. When the doctor asked me if I brought anyone with me, I knew it couldn’t be good news. She asked me did I believe in God or a higher power, I replied, “absolutely.” She told me she prayed everyday and especially before surgery. She went on to tell me the biopsy showed there was cancer in my left breast and she wanted to do what she called a lumpectomy. She explained the procedure and it was scheduled later that month. When I had my follow-up exam after the lumpectomy, Dr. Laclaustra told me she wanted to go back in and clean up the area because the “margins” weren’t as good as she hoped. I was scheduled to go on vacation with my mother in July and the surgery would have to wait.

When I returned from vacation, she scheduled another lumpectomy in August 2010. When I went for my follow up exam, she still wasn’t happy with the “margins”. So she scheduled an appointment with two specialists, an Oncologist and a Plastic Surgeon. The Oncologist was right to the point and recommended a mastectomy. The Plastic Surgeon discussed immediate reconstruction at the time of the mastectomy. I had to pray and seek God for an answer. September 2010, I received a personal call from Dr. Laclaustra asking me what was my decision. I told her I was going to do the mastectomy and reconstruction. My surgery was scheduled for September 29, 2010. I began to notify my immediate family, get my insurance issues in order and apply for medical leave. A friend came to me to offer her help during my recuperation. She offered for me to stay with her home or stay in one of her houses she had recently renovated.

My Best Friend, a nurse, from NJ flew in to stay with me in the hospital and my mother flew in from PA. the day of surgery, I was surrounded by friends and family. September 29, 2010 started what seemed like a long journey to recovery. I had doctor’s visits twice a week; I had drainage tubes for nearly a month, the visiting nurse came to change my dressings daily. Some days it took every bit of strength I had just to sit up and get out of bed. I eventually went to therapy to be able to lift my arms. I also developed lymphedema from the surgery and had to go to therapy to relieve the lymphedema. Through this journey I attended support group meetings, and the love and support of my family and friends. Many kind friends from my job and church came to visit, take me out and brought food for me and my family.

I returned to work the third week of January 2011 and continued to go to therapy two times per week. In June 2011, I had another surgical procedure to release some of the scar tissue in the left breast. January 2012, I had my first mammogram and ultrasound since first being diagnosed with cancer and Praise God, I am cancer free! “Jesus assures us of his never failing love and care, even when the path of our lives leads us through some rough places; He carries us through it all.”

Brenda Coke

My name is Brenda Coke; I was born and raised in Jamaica, a married mother of five boys. I came in the U.S.A. in 2000, things were good, and we were happy. Then, April 1, 2011 something broke my happiness. I woke up one morning felt a lump under my arm that shocked me. I thought it was an abscess so I called my sister-in-law in Jamaica, and she told me it was abscess. I told my husband, he encouraged me to go to the ER but I decided to try to treat it myself. Things got worse with redness and swelling, then I felt my breast tingling and so I then decided to go to the ER. On April 12, 2000 I went to the emergency room the doctor examined me and immediately sent me for a mammogram. My breast was so sore I could hardly go on the machine. It showed a little spot, so they sent me for an ultrasound, the ultrasound also show some spots. After the ultrasound I was to go for a biopsy. So, I went to Wellington to Dr. Laclaustra’s office. On that day she examined me and said it looked like cancer she did the biopsy anyway and told me she would call me with the results in four days. The news was not good, it was stage 4 cancer! I could not believe it, I said “are you sure?” My mind went wild. She told me I had to start chemo, and radiation I broke completely down, what’s going to happen to me, and especially my kids. I said “I’m not doing it!” I want to go home and die. My mother talked to me and said that I was putting my life in danger. I calmed down and said yes, “I will do it.” Dr. Laclaustra became a mother figure to me, and she is an excellent doctor. I would recommend her to anybody! She encouraged me. I shared the news with my family and told them I didn’t want treatment. Of course they were mad, and said I needed to do whatever it is to save my life, and that I had my kids to think about. I went to work a friend of mine is a breast cancer survivor. I told Sheryl what was going on and that I didn’t feel like I could do it. Sheryl said “if I could do it, you can too.” I was crying all the time, not feeling like the same person but Sheryl kept me lifted up through it all. Finally, I went to Dr. Raymond to start my chemo. The first day I went in the chemo room I broke down I could not stand to smell the medicine. I felt so bad I started to cry, the staff was so good to me they treated me like family. My chemo treatments lasted three months, August 1st, I had surgery then radiation. After radiation I was doing just fine, started to feel good again. I gave thanks to God for sparing my life. This year I went to the doctor for my annual checkup and here we go again. A spot was detected in my left breast, once again I refuse to go back or return calls, but Sheryl was right there to encourage me. I did my biopsy on July 16, 2012 and had my surgery the same day I was home for three weeks thanks be to God I did not have to have any radiation or chemo. I have to thank God for the honor and the glory, and the praise: He gave me strength to get over what I had to pass through; it was not easy it was a nightmare. Thanks to Dr. Laclaustra, Dr. Raymond who save my life. Thanks to my friends and family, my husband who was there to help me out after surgery. I thank God I am around to see my kids and share in their life! Many rivers I cross but I make it through. I am a breast cancer survivor! Love Brenda

Dr. Tracy L. Sims

Dr. Tracy L. Sims was born and raised in Americus, Georgia. She has been employed with the School District of Palm Beach County for the past 28 years where she has served as a teacher, consulting teacher, assistant principal and principal. She is the mother of 3 beautiful children: Brandon, 29 years old who has a BA in Pre-Med and a MA in Sports Medicine, Britne, 25 years old attends UCF as a Math major, and MyKayla, 17 years old and who is currently a high school senior in the Engineering Academy as well as a basketball player.

In February of 2000, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and was informed that without treatment, she would not have made it through Jun, 2000. During her chemo she lost her brother and went through a devastating divorce. Thankfully, she had the support of her hair dresser, Vanessa Robinson who say her through having hair, losing hair, and having it back again… her god parents and her children were also a steady constant, her rock and her strength. Without them, the love of her family and her faith in God it could have been easy to give up. Glory be to God that in spite of it all, she feels blessed and is happy to report that as of 2012, she remains cancer free.

Currently, Dr. Sims is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority of the South Palm Beach County Alumnae Chapter. Dr. Sims also serves on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters where she works collaboratively to help children in need of mentors, basic needs as well as serving as a volunteer for the organization. In her spare time, she is a Zumba instructor where she teaches Zumba for local LA Fitness throughout Palm Beach County. She also teaches Zumba toning and Zumbatonics to children. Dr. Sims was a writing instructor for 3 years and has over 22 students who are published authors. Two years ago, Dr. Sims was hired as a ghost writer, where she wrote a book called “Revolutionary Leader: Reflections on Life, Leadership, Politics” for a well known and famous Anguillian, J. Ronald Webster, better known as Father of the Nation of Anguilla. The book can be purchased at

She currently holds a Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership, a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership, a Bachelor in Elementary Education and an Associate’s Degree in Business Education.

Britnee' Walker 

​Hello, I am Britnee’ Walker. I’m a 22 year old breast cancer survivor. I was blessed to overcome the biggest challenge in my life, cancer! At the time I was 20 years of age, never thought I would face something so dangerous. With no history on either side, April 26, 2011 was the day I was notified cancer was attacking my body. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in my left breast. Attending my yearly checkups at my OBGYN, the midwife at the office discovered a lump on my left breast. She recommended I immediately have a breast ultrasound, the results came back abnormal. Test showed there were two cysts on my left breast. My doctor request I have a breast biopsy of both cysts. April 26, 2011, my OBGYN called me for an emergency visit. My doctor set me down in an examination room then began to go over results from biopsy test. She stated first cyst noncancerous second cyst cancerous, from that point I was confused and didn’t understand. As she exited the room to contact a cancer doctor, I replayed in my head the conversation. Tears fell as I sat there feeling hopeless. At the time I saw death when I heard the word cancer. I had lost my younger auntie the same year to brain cancer. I didn’t know if I was coming or going. In the mean time, I met with the first cancer doctor he suggest I have a double mastectomy. I went for a second opinion, she said the same. Because, my right breast would be high risk, I had a double mastectomy on May 25, 2011 my father’s birthday.

I then found out it wasn’t two cysts, but one big cyst all cancerous at 10 cm and 1 inch away from the skin. Doctors stated if I would have waited I would have had skin cancer. The fact it was very close to the skin, I had to go through 8 treatments of chemotherapy and 5 months Monday-Friday of radiation. This was a hard and long process but, I’m proud to take a stand as a young survivor. As I bow with such a heavy testimony on my back, I first want to thank god for allowing me to be a blessing in others life. Next, I want to thank my son for being that extra push, I cried many nights with the thoughts I wouldn’t make it. But, he helped me stay positive and focused. Most of all I thank my king dad, and my queen mom, god bless them both. They were with me! Every appointment and every treatment they were there. As bad as they wanted to fight the battle for me they sure fought with me. To my family you all gave me hope; saw the strength in me when I didn’t see it in myself. My loyal friends believed in me and kept the faith very special to me. I love all of you! I salute those that did know me and showed love, and much respect. May god bless, happy national breast cancer month! I love and respect all cancer… Fight for life.

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