Tonja Harden-Shellman



It was sometime in July 2015, at my family reunion in Washington D.C. when I felt a lump on my left breast. Although I mentioned it to my mom & sisters, I chose to brush it off. About a month later, the lump was still very prominent and felt, I thought, a little bigger. However, since I was due for a mammogram in December, I wasn’t as concerned as I should have been. Finally, I talked myself into going to my gynecologist. After examining me, she was concerned about the lump, but because she was not qualified to diagnose it as cancer, advised me to set up an appointment for an early mammogram. My appointment was scheduled for a month later, so again, I waited. FINALLY, I went in for my mammogram. Needless to say, I was immediately scheduled for a biopsy. By December 21, 2015, I was a Stage 2 Triple Negative breast cancer patient at Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute. That day, was the 2nd worst day of my life. The 1st was the day my father passed, April 10, 2012. My journey back to health began in January. I was told I would first need a lumpectomy, two rounds of chemo, and then six weeks of radiation. I cried; I talked to God; I talked to my family; I fought with myself about whether or not I should proceed with treatment, and even pleaded out loud to my deceased father to advise me somehow. During that couple of weeks of searching for answers, I spoke with two good friends from my past who had battled the same diagnosis years earlier. They both vehemently advised me to go forward with the full treatment. Another beautiful soul I spoke with, unfortunately lost her battle earlier this year, God rest her soul. Several others advised a vegan diet or the holistic alternative and no treatment. I was so torn. Finally, after listening to the pleas of my sisters, I decided to follow through with the treatment. Although the chemo was harsh, and even landed me five days in the hospital, I am pleased to tell you I completed all of my treatments, on Tuesday, September 27th, with no follow up treatment! HALLELUJAH, ALL PRAISES DUE TO GOD, I AM A SURVIVOR!!! My biggest accomplishment…I never lost my faith in God, and I SMILED THROUGH THE PAIN!!!