Death. It’s the one thing that we know for certain yet never really seem ready for. I don’t know, something about the death of Stuart Scott at 49 from his battle with cancer made me think about our mortality. It also makes me think about how sometimes even a valiant fight will end with what we’ve come to think of as a tragic end. But in reality, we always know that it’s pending, that we indeed cannot live forever. Yet, just the thought of leaving this Earth is enough to bring tears to my eyes every time.
It took me time to feel like I wanted to write about something I went through this past year. But I guess in the essence of redeeming the time, I felt inclined to share. Imagine … I was gearing up for a photo shoot for my women empowering event series and online community Bold, Brown & Beautiful. I was literally in the shower the day of and as I was washing, felt something hard in my left breast. Something that didn’t quite feel the same on the other side.
Constantly, you are told, check your breast, check your breast, but no one tells you what to do with the gut wrenching feeling you get when you actually find something. I had to feel over and over again. I had to double check, I had to compare and meanwhile I was up against the clock to get myself ready and to work with over 8 women to pull off a shoot I had been planning over the last month. There was barely any time, time that I honestly really needed to freak all the way out.
The shoot was one thing. I got through it. The energy was something amazing that I never could have planned for. The photos were coming out amazing and the vision that I saw, bringing together brown women of all races was a glimpse of just how real God is in my life. That was easy. It was when it was all finished and my mind had the opportunity to settle that I started to fear, that I immediately thought, I am going to die of cancer at the age of 28. Before I’m married, before I have kids, before both of my parents, before I’ve seen anything. I was so afraid without any information about what was really even happening in my body. No one told me that this could happen to me and how I was supposed to react when it happened.
I already had a physical scheduled for the Monday after the shoot. So, I at least had the opportunity to be seen very quickly after finding this lump. One of my reactions in this situation, which I really didn’t expect was the embarrassment I felt. I was defective, something was wrong with me and I was afraid to even tell one of the closest people to me, my boyfriend. But after my thoughts ran amuck and I couldn’t hold it in any longer, this secret I was carrying, I told him. I told him and I cried. I sank into his arms and cried, because even though I know that we will all leave this place, I didn’t want to leave like this.
God reminds us all the time, “Don’t Fear,” “Don’t be afraid” and here I was so scared without any diagnosis. But even in my fear, in the same breaths of tears, I looked up every scripture about God’s healing and how he wants us to be healthy and whole to perform his work in the Earth.
We don’t have to be anxious about anything, but we do have to take into consideration that life really is short. Most of us always will probably feel like we want more time. My Pastor always says that we should die because we’re empty, not because of anything else. My fears were based more on all I still had to do than the actual thought of no longer being here. But here I look at someone like Stuart Scott and think aw man, look at what he gave. Look at his impact. And though there are his daughters and other family members that will severely miss him, he won. He still won. That’s what I have learned as a Christian. Jesus conquered the grave and in death, we have still won.
This was the scariest thing I’ve ever had happen to me in my life. But it was really just a wakeup call. A reminder of my mortality. I had a benign tumor which I had removed on December 12th with my angel Dena watching over me. If you know me, you know that 12 is kind of my number. I’ve experienced, highs, lows, and great things on 12s.
NO ONE ever tells you that finding a lump in your breast, doesn’t mean you have cancer. Which is in part why I even felt compelled to share about my experience. I just want someone else to know that you don’t have to be terrified out of your mind in that moment of actually finding something. We have to know. We have to be informed and we have to know that even if it is breast cancer that early detection is key and it is no longer a death sentence.
But most importantly, I want you to know even in fear to trust God. It’s the one thing we know for sure that we won’t live forever, so how will we live?