Nia Gilliam was a busy single mom working as a pilot and ambassador for Black women in flying when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her diagnosis took her on a nearly two-year journey of multiple surgeries that made her realize when it comes to breast cancer, you should expect the unexpected.
Black women in the U.S. are about 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women and the cause of this is multifaceted.
Donna Dennis and Nia Gilliam have experienced life changes because of breast cancer, and are soaring to new heights as survivors. Donna is a former track and field star and known as one of the greatest female sprinters in the nation. She qualified as an alternate for the 1984 Olympics in the 200. Donna was […]
Leading up to Renee Young’s breast cancer diagnosis at age 49, nothing seemed amiss. She went to her yearly mammogram with no qualms that anything was wrong. But when she was called back in for a follow-up mammogram, she felt something in her gut. “I’d been called back in before, but this time, I really felt it was going to be something,” Renee said.
Laura Dallam has always been good about getting her yearly mammograms and she’s a big advocate for others getting theirs, too. She knows firsthand the importance of annual exams. She’s twice been diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer, and it was during her annual mammograms that the suspicious spots were found. “Yearly mammograms are important because they can catch something potentially wrong and catch it early,” she said. “It’s happened to me twice.”
In October 2020, Joni Petter was diagnosed with breast cancer in her right breast. “I was in shock,” she said. “I just kept thinking I wasn’t ready to leave my husband, kids and four grandkids.” Joni talked with her breast surgeon about whether to have a bilateral mastectomy or a single mastectomy.
Jamie Gallagher had her first mammogram in January 2023, which led to an ultrasound in February and a day she’d never forget. “My doctor told me she believed I had breast cancer and I would need a biopsy. I was in shock,” Jamie recalled.
Alecia was shopping for an upcoming vacation when she got a call from her doctor telling her she had breast cancer. Suddenly, vacation plans were replaced with plans for surgery and chemotherapy. Alecia turned to Komen for help. “Komen provides the support and resources breast cancer patients need,” she said.
While everyone is at risk for breast cancer, some people are at a higher risk than others. To complicate things further, some who have few to no risk factors (aside from being born female and getting older) will develop breast cancer, while others that do have these risk factors will never develop breast cancer.
Talking about your family’s health history is often easier said than done. A person’s health is a sensitive subject, and some family members may be very private and quiet about their health. No one should be forced to share, but you can encourage your family member by letting them know how this information can help you make informed decisions about your care and that their health history may also impact you.
One of the greatest challenges today in treating breast cancer is that tumor cells can evolve and change over time and become resistant to treatment. This treatment resistance is caused by mutations, or changes to the blueprint of a tumor cell’s DNA that allow it to adapt and survive. As a result, a treatment that was working well for a patient suddenly becomes ineffective.
Tawnya Sheffield is no stranger to breast cancer. Sixteen women in her mother’s family have had the disease. In 2013, Tawnya learned she had breast cancer.