SLAYING & DEFEATING CANCER
Deniece C. Styles & Jeneine Doucette -White both slayed cancer. They are using their victory from defeating Breast Cancer as a platform to empower and motivate others who have been affected.
I was able to have an amazing opportunity to sit down with both powerful women and ask them about their Breast Cancer Survivor Stories:
- When did you find out you had breast cancer?
Jeneine: I found out on March 23, 2015.
Deniece: I found out January 6, 2016, right before my 33rd birthday. It was a week before my birthday celebration.
- What were your first thoughts and reactions?
Deniece: Ummm, well when I found out I didn’t believe it. It was around Christmas time when I found out. When I first found out the person was kind of rude about it over the phone. “We were trying to call you and tell you, you have cancer.” Then they directed me to my nurse and they told me I had stage 2 cancer. Then I couldn’t believe it and I thought I was going to die and everything I worked for wasn’t going to happen.
And really after that, I couldn’t remember what happened. It was an outer body experience. I remember being in the car and Linda (my nurse) gave me information and I was in my car and I started breaking down and prayed to God, I know it was His will.
Jeneine: Umm for some reason I wasn’t in shock. I had a mammogram the previous week and they noticed something. They sent for a biopsy that Thursday which was painful. They take some of the cells so they can determine if it is cancerous. I knew that I had to go through the weekend without knowing and we went about our weekend. I only told my sister, my husband about the test and my best-friend because it could have been nothing. Deep inside I had a feeling that it was more than that. I don’t know why. I got the call here at work from my doctor. It was between 5:30pm and 6:00pm. She said, “are you by yourself or do you want me to wait or tell you now.” I said no, I don’t want to wait. “It’s not the news we want to here. It is a malignant and you are so young we want you to come in and send you into a breast surgeon.” My head was spinning a little bit. I called my husband and told him and it shook him. I then told a colleague and we cried. I didn’t know what I was going to need.
The next two days I stayed home and found a doctor. I had to wrap my brain around what was going to happen so I came back into work on Thursday. I had an appointment that next Monday and Wednesday. I was calling in to get favors to see doctors. I had to still wait the following week.
The first date they told me was April 16th and then I used my connects to move my appointment to April 7th and then to April 1st. I had to put my producer hat on and see how I could get a good breast surgeon as soon as possible. A lot of people helped me and referred me to doctors and that was very reassuring.
3. How did chemotherapy affect your body?
Deniece: Besides the typical nausea, it’s a feeling you can’t describe. It felt like bricks were on my feet. So tired. Dry mouth. Joint and knees, tendinitis. My hair fell out. Eyebrows lashes. Dry skin. Lethargic. I thank God, although I had those feelings I have to thank God I was on the better side. I’m on hormonal therapy for 10 years. I have estrogen positive. I have menopause now. So I don’t have my period. I have to take medicines that give me other reactions. It affects my hormones and mood. Hot flashes and mood swings. My emotions are always up and down and I am dehydrated.
Once I want to have kids I stop taking the medicine. They suggest to have kids after two years because I still want kids.
Jeneine: I lost all of my hair within a week. It was week two. I had my first treatment on Monday June 29th. Two weeks later my hair started falling out. I had one wig made. I hated it. Suggesting you wear a wig is terrible because you are so hot. I rocked the baldy.
They encourage you the month before to get your wigs created or what your going to wear like a bandanna or hat. I bought all kind of cute hats. I wore the wig for a month at work and then I was over it quick. Physically it took a toll. It took months for me to recover even after chemo. It took months for me to have my own body. After two years, I finally have my own body back.
4. How did you feel losing your hair?
Deniece: I had a “Cut It Party.” I had a party where they actually cut my hair. My friends came and a lot of my friends cut their hair as well. I wanted to cut it before the chemo got to it. I wanted to take the power back and have a party.
My hair started falling out a week after chemo. It was a week that I decided to wear a wig. But it wasn’t me. I went to a baldy walk and I gained confidence and was empowered. So I started rocking my baldy.
I recently, told my boyfriend that my hair is growing back and I hate it. I had a breakdown. I hate it because I don’t know how to rock my hair. I am still dealing with hair issues now. I am trying to find something that works for me.
Jeneine: Black women, we put a lot of value in our hair. When you don’t have your hair you are limited to how you can do it. At then end of the day though, it’s just hair. It doesn’t define me. I am trying to survive chemo and this cancer.
5. What gave you strength on days that you wanted to give up?
Jeneine: My family. My husband was a rock-star. He was just great. My stepson and daughter and even my extended family and my sister.
I discovered my neighbors and amazing women who embraced me. My girl scout moms they would bring Tupperware of food and they would drop the food off. They would help with my daughter, Gabrielle. Weekends were always bad. The migraines and aches came in. I would have to take heavy duty pain killers to help my head but my neighbors and my family stepped up even more. It was really important that the kids didn’t feel anyway about the cancer. My friends even checked in on my husband. My coworkers came to my chemo sessions with me. The outpouring from the people in industry was amazing. Work here was amazing. They said take all the time. I didn’t feel stressed about work at all. For me it made me realize how strong I am. You don’t know how strong you are until you are challenged or faced with something and then we realize we could get through it.
Deniece: What gave me strength were people that were positive and sent me uplifting/encouraging words and scriptures. It was also, all God. It was my mission and purpose that He gave to me. I have now, started a business and that kept me busy and kept me focused on other things.
I had my moments but I had happier moments more than sad. Now it’s more emotionally harder for me. During my down moments it was God, family, friends, boyfriend and my business. My sorority sisters and friends kept me laughing and happy.
It’s emotionally harder now. It’s hard to explain. While I was going through chemo I was going to the doctor. Now I am thinking what if my cancer came back. Will I be able to have kids? My body is not the same. My job is very active. I am trying to figure out how to live my life now. I’m not taking away my gratitude. I still think about it. Once you are a cancer patient you are a cancer patient for life. I am grateful but my reality is different. You think what if it happens again? It is a lot. I don’t have that feeling where I feel like I am being taken care of. You have to stay positive and stay prayed up.
I would say honestly its 99 percent mental. You have to be positive. It’s a real mental game. In the midst of it, it feels like it will never be over but it will and God will make a way. You just have to believe and have a positive mindset.