By: Felicia Johnson
Breast Cancer Survivor and Overcomer
I am a generational breast cancer overcomer. I was a teenager when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. And before I knew it, time and eleven breast cancer diagnoses transformed the vision of our family's lives. Breast cancer had bound us with paralyzing fear that filled us with apprehension. All I could hear were the silent voices of those affected filled with uncertainties and questions.
Now, yesterday’s silence is swallowed through my voice. I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in Oct 2003 and in Jan. 2010 with Triple Negative. Hear the shattering scream of my shock, disbelief and travels though the garden of breast cancer. Listen to the cut of our thorns and the beauty of our rose pedals grown in its soil.
Felicia and her son Brandyn, taken during breast cancer treatment
Metastatic Thorns and Rose Petals: We Carry: I Carried
We carry the living experiences of the silence of my mother’s generation calling cancer the big “C”. We carry the tormenting fear that cancer erupted on our family.
We carry the bonus of mental and emotional scaring within our hearts and mind.
We carry breast cancer disease attacking our women from the ages of thirty-two to sixty.
We carry breast cancer diagnoses from Early-Stage to Re-diagnosed through to Metastatic Breast Cancer.
We carry the visual experiences of treatment side effects.
We carried our tears knowing that my mother received her angel’s wings at age 40 with eight children under the age of twenty- one. Our ages ranged from four to twenty-one. (my parents married after high school and had eleven children)
We carried the shared experiences, as we watched our aunts also get their angel’s wings at thirty-eight and some of their children were also under the ages of eighteen that became motherless.
We carried these memories with us, as cancer began to shattered the generation with unforgettable experiences.
I Carried: I Carry
Think about a rose and its fallen petals. In life, sometimes we have a tendency to only remember the cut from the thorns. I carry the cuts from the thorns and the fragrances from our family’s rose petals.
Oh! I don’t understand the life cycle of a rose or the shortness of it. And no, I don’t understand the cycle of metastatic breast cancer’s life ending process of my grandmother, aunts, mother, cousins or my sister. Yet, there are fragrances that have seeped from their rose petals.
I carry the petals of strength from my grandmother and the persistent spirit from my aunts.
I carry the petals of the beautiful gentle smile my mother that she wore each day.
I carry the petals of courage and endurance given by my cousins, Oh! How I miss their love.
I carried the petals of a shared devotion between two sisters.
Members of Felicia's family who also faced metastatic breast cancer.
Continuing to Carry
I carried the petals of hearing my sister's and cousin’s cancer diagnosis with trembling disbelief.
I carried the petals of pain and suffering they experienced enduring disease.
I carried the petals of moments we spend together in anguish and joy.
Now, I carried the petals of peace as we made difficult decisions to invite Hospice to begin.
I carry the fallen voices of rose petals, as I move into the future without them.
I carry the petals of immeasurable grace to hold on to life when something so inexplicable as breast cancer showed me that living includes thorns that cut me open. Yes, life does come with trials.
I No Longer Carry the Load
Finally, I lay down in my heart the petals of my sister’s last words to me. “Felicia, you are strong, God will bring you through.”
In closing, may our thorns, our petals and my Sister’s words strengthen your hearts beyond the cutting incision of breast cancer. “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth.”
There is no rose petal that doesn’t leave a fragrance remembered or a thorn that doesn’t remind us that life comes with some difficult challenges.
If you or your loved one has been affected by breast cancer, the big “C” can no longer steal your voice.
Breast Cancer Survivor & Overcomer
Please read more about what Susan G. Komen and Komen Philadelphia are doing for metastatic breast cancer.
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