Patient Blogs | Breast Cancer
What I Wish People Understood About Breast Cancer: It’s Complicated.
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People who don’t have a chronic illness or terminal disease (thank God!) could never truly understand how difficult it is to have the shadows of your mortality hovering over your life. I’ve had to face this reality for 20 years ever since I was 28 years old. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful to be alive. But truthfully, no matter how much faith and hope that I have, I am tired of this disease. I’m certain that my loved ones are too -- even if they’re too proper to ever admit it to themselves or to me.

Imagine getting the devastating news that you have breast cancer when you’re in your prime. In 2003, like my peers, I was living my so-called best life. I had no worries besides the normal life stressors. Then this news smacks me in the face. I was fortunate to have many supporters who prayed for me or accompanied me to chemo treatments. These same people celebrated with me when I was in remission. Then they cried and prayed for me again 7 years later when the disease reoccurred, and it was metastatic. 

At that time, I thought that I had given them a proper explanation of the nature of my disease: that it would be treatable but not curable. Thus, I would need to be on some sort of treatment for the rest of my life. Perhaps, looking back, I tried to soften the blow and minimize the magnitude of this leg of my journey. And to be fair, looking at me, no one would suspect the number of treatments that I’ve had over the past several years. I am truly a case of “I don’t look like what I’ve been through” as I still have my hair and any weight loss was never too drastic because I’m naturally curvy and slender. 

I’m what you’d call a trooper as I just keep moving forward and don’t ask for people to cry me a river like I’m a victim. That’s why, despite the quiet nervousness that I always feel when I’m going for scans to check the status of the disease, I rarely mention it to my loved ones (except for my prayer warriors). Nor do I always discuss the latest treatment that I’m on. The rare times I do mention something about the disease or treatment, it’s like they don’t hear what I’m saying or just don’t get it. I don’t judge them. I’m tired of hearing me talk about it too and I know they love me very much, so they support me no matter what. 

As a long-time cancer survivor (I’m still hopeful for a cure!), the precarious nature of the disease is complicated. Sometimes I just want to feel normal, like I’m still the same person I was before I was diagnosed. Then there are times that I want my loved ones to really hear my pain and let me just cry on their shoulder or for them to scream with me about how annoying this situation is. One thing that I know for sure is that, like the imperfect characters in the Bible, regardless of how I feel, I’m a walking miracle still here by God’s mercy and grace. 

My testimony is not about me. It’s for a bigger purpose of showing others that no matter what it looks or feels like, keep moving forward. 


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Photo Credit: JGalione / E+ 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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