• Shevelle Copeland-Kelly

Happy Birthday Black Women Rising....#8

The weeks that followed my diagnosis saw me do some dangerous things. I trolled the net I found out so many statistics I killed myself and resuscitated myself at the same time. I stopped looking when it told me breast cancer in the grande scheme of things is the best type of cancer to have unless you have triple negative like me....then your pretty much dead.

One thing I did find was the ‘Black Women Rising’ project and founder Leanne this thing saved me. It was her, her story her project. She saved me. It was this and my birds. She didn’t know she saved me. I stalked her page. I had to know more. She was just like me. Not far from my age. She had a social life. She was black. She looked cool. Her first name was my middle name Leanne! So we are cool. I knew her brother! And she had Breast cancer and Chemo and she was still alive! Nah is this all coincidence? Anyways this woman I had found. Was me!!!! I had to speak to her! Cancer it either makes you reach out or retreat. But I knew I wanted to reach out. I was desperate. I was dying and only I could find the thing that would save me. I messaged her I did it. Within 5 mins I got a response. Omg she’s a real person! That same week there was a support group which she invited me to.

I was scared. Is it too early for me to be finding support groups. I’m black do we even do this? Wait am I actually going to openly declare cancer to a room full of people. Am I allowed? But if I openly say the word cancer, I heard the universe and the wicked people will take it and use it to kill me. You know all that obeah and juju stuff. You see as an ethnic minority being diagnosed with a disease is one thing. But our superstitions and beliefs that have grounded us are another thing. That’s a whole new battle.

The fact that when people find out about your diagnosis in our community the questions and comments that follow are:

How yuh get that?

Well, im not quite sure you know.

Chemotherapy is not good I am against it.

Okay, have you tried it?

Chemo is not the only option.

Okay , well I don’t doubt that CBD oil cured you but the way my anxiety is set up I don’t have time to wait and see.

The thing with people in particular is some just do not think before they speak. They generally don’t mean to cause harm. But you know what at this point I couldn’t care less. Black women Rising touches on all these stigmas. The shame that cancer sufferers feel within the BAME communities. Our cancer diagnosis is not more special. But it has specific challenges.

I was ashamed. How the flip did I get breast cancer at 28. I couldn’t even say the word cancer I opted to say “the thing” I didn’t know anyone in their plight of life to obstructed by this at not even 30. As I said before breast cancer is for 50 plus, well at least that’s what they make you believe. They didn’t even wanna send me for a Mamogram until it was confirmed cancer.

Anyways I had found this support group. I was the youngest but it didn’t matter. I felt safe. I was in a room full of women. Black women who all knew what cancer felt like. All fighting stigmas. I was going to keep my diagnosis secret. The truth is a lot of women do. I guarantee you someone you know personally has gone through breast cancer and they didn’t mention it. Instead they went into hibernation like a serial killer on the loose. Now you don’t need to walk around telling the whole word you got or had cancer. But you never know who you might inspire or who you might save.

This is why I have decided to speak and share my story. The Black women rising project lifts you into a place of comfort and for me gave me a new found confidence. I am certain if it wasn’t for this group I would be hiding with squirrels this winter or much worse. I went from a place of contemplating to jump the shard, preparing my own funeral to documenting my journey and sharing with others. Now I’m having the best and worst time of my life. My thought process was a mess! As I said in the beginning you never now who your story can affect. So talk the tings share with the world and change perceptions.

Nobody brings sickness on themselves and definitely not cancer!

Alexa Blaze - Brown Skin girl, Beyonce FT Wizkid

@Blackwomenrisng - Instagram

Check out the importance of groups like this within our community. Breast cancer can be treated quite effectively if caught in its early stages and whilsts the statistics as a whole are great. BAME women have significantly poorer rates of survival due to a number of contributing factors.

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