A Young Woman’s Journey Through Breast Cancer
- Created on October 12th, 2008
- By Nikia Hammonds-Blakely
It was by far, the most shocking experience of my life. At age 16, just a sophomore in high school, I was showering for school one day when I felt a lump in my breast.
Internally, I shrugged it off as if it were nothing. I didn’t think anything of it and went on to school. I didn’t even tell my mom. At this point there was no reason for me to suspect anything was wrong. I had no family history of breast cancer. I wasn’t overly concerned because breast cancer was just not anything in my vocabulary.
That was until two weeks later when I went for a routine physical and the doctor told me and my mom that the lump in my breast was cause for concern, and large enough that they should get more tests. I saw the concern on my mother’s face. And, with the doctor’s reaction, I began to feel a tremendous amount of fear. The doctor even struggled with whether or not to pursue treatment because they felt I was just a young girl, developing rapidly and the lump could be any number of things.
After getting the biopsy the doctor assured me that it was “just a precaution,” but I learned that not only was the lump cancerous, but that I was suffering from one of the more aggressive forms of the disease.
I was in shock! I heard the words but it was like, ‘Wonk, wonk, wah, wonk, wonk, wonk.’ I was absolutely devastated. It took literally weeks to grasp what she had just told me.
Although the breast cancer was caught before it could spread elsewhere, I was still a 16-year-old who had to maneuver through the course of treatments with little counseling and understanding of the implications that my decisions could have on my life.
Doctors recommended that I have a double mastectomy in which both of my breasts would be removed to prevent further spread of the cancer, but, after doing some homework, I decided with my mom to take it one step at a time and get the first breast treated and then see what I needed to do next.
It was a risky decision, I will admit, particularly since I had fibrous breasts, which could mask additional growths. Because I had the more aggressive form of breast cancer, there also was a chance that I would continue to grow other lumps throughout my life.
Additionally, the prospect of dealing with a double mastectomy at age 16 was a bombshell to my already fragile self-esteem as a teen battling weight and self-image issues. It was just a horrible combination of things I was dealing with. Would I ever get a date? Would anyone take me to the junior prom with no breasts? It was too much thrown at me at once.”
But today at age 30, as a motivational speaker and gospel singer, I have truly found in God the grace and strength to live my life on my own terms without fear. A 14-year survivor, I am a spokesperson for the Susan G. Komen for The Cure Circle of Promise campaign and am enjoying a new marriage and finishing up my doctoral degree.
Most recently, I was even afforded the opportunity to travel to Africa where I learned of young girls who are battling aggressive breast cancer at age 13 and 14. I toured the hospitals and villages encouraging them to fight for their lives, and praying that my life would be an example for them.
So, on September 6th of this year, I recorded a live CD/DVD of original songs of healing and inspiration that I wrote through my own experience, and will use 100% of the proceeds to benefit the breast cancer foundation in Nigeria that treats those young women.
I hope to be a living example that great things can come out of hard times, with a little prayer and tenacity.
For more information on me and my journey, or how to book an appearance or purchase a CD/DVD please visit me at www.nikiahammondsblakely .com or on myspace at www.myspace.com/nikiahammondsblakley.