Patient Blogs | Breast Cancer
My Solo Journey With Breast Cancer
photo of woman looking at ocean

On a sunny August afternoon in 2003, while I drove back to NYC from my trip to Savannah, GA, I began thinking about what I was about to face upon my return: chemotherapy. 

My doctors had recommended this treatment as a safety measure. I had initially fretted about the reality that chemo would cause hair loss and other side effects, but after my trip, I had come to terms with everything. 

I listened intently to “God is Real,” from India Arie’s CD Journey to India, the lyrics resonated in my spirit: 

“… I jumped in the water. It was like I was seeing it for the first time. It literally changed my life. For the first time, I understood its power … that’s how I know that God is real.” 

I focused on the road and reflected on my 3-day stay at the bed-and-breakfast in Georgia.

I remembered the serenity that I felt while I floated on a raft in the pool. With the mellow sounds of jazz playing lightly in the background and the harmonizing chirps of birds and other sounds of nature, I felt at peace. I let my feet dangle in the sun-drenched water and surrendered to the sanctuary of solitude. The other guests had checked out earlier that day, so I had the place all to myself. I felt the presence of God all around me. I began to pray for the strength that I’d need for the journey ahead of me. I eventually put my full body into the water. 

I still had slight pain in my left chest from the mastectomy, and my arm was numb from the removal of my lymph nodes, so I didn’t swim. Instead, I just waded in the water; after a while, the pain dissipated. 

Nature’s elements, the water, the birds, and the sun, were giving me the clarity that I needed. Then a montage of cherished memories came to mind: my daughter’s dance recital, me dancing to house music at the park, and the times I had brunch with my friends. 

As the sun shined on my body, sweat did not appear; but tears of gratefulness did. Although my life had changed in an indescribable manner and I sometimes felt myriad emotions and questions, I realized that since my diagnosis, I cherished every breath that I took. I knew how blessed I was to be alive. I needed to keep the faith as God was preparing me for a journey that I could never plan. I would trust the process and move forward. 

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Photo Credit: Mike Tauber / Tetra images via Getty Images

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Khadijah Carter

Khadijah Carter

Diagnosed since 2003

Khadijah Carter is a wife and a mother of great faith with a powerful story of overcoming adversity. In 2003, when she was 28, Carter was diagnosed with breast cancer. Seven years later, she learned that the cancer had metastasized to her lungs. While still undergoing chemotherapy, Carter earned a Master of Science in Journalism at Columbia University. For decades now, Carter has been a volunteer health advocate and peer supporter on behalf of various breast cancer organizations. Additionally, as a gifted orator and vocalist, Carter has been a special guest speaker and singer for The American Cancer Society’s Making Strides and Susan B. Komen. Today, Carter works full-time as an executive creative director for the City of New York. She also sings with the Praise and Worship Team at Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn, NY.

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