This is Barbra Watson-Riley's story in her own words before passing on November 7, 2013:
In September 2011, I was diagnosed with aggressive Stage 2, triple negative breast cancer. I found my lump three months after a clear mammogram. My treatment began with chemo in an effort to reduce the lump. After four treatments, I switched to a 2nd group of chemo meds. A week into that treatment I noticed that my lump felt funny, and mentioned it to my doctor. It turns out the tumor, which had been cut in half from the original chemo, was now growing back, and had regained its original size in 10 days.
I had an emergency double mastectomy the week of Christmas. On New Years, I had more surgery due to a hematoma. After healing from surgery, I started more chemo. A week after 3 more rounds of chemo, I found more cancerous tissue, which led to a third surgery. I started radiation within two weeks. In my 5th week, I started to suffer from severe burns. I completed radiation in May, and look forward to my final reconstruction. In May 2012, I completed radiation and was then diagnosed in November 2012 with Metastatic Breast Cancer in the Lung. I have been in chemo for 10 months. I survived Life in the Cancer Lane thanks to my incredible husband. He could teach a Master Class in care-giving! My other soldiers in this fight were my daughter, my family and friends around the country who stepped in when I couldn't be "mommy", and of course, my excellent doctors. Doctors who listened!
I have been a breast cancer advocate for over a decade. I now have a more complete understanding of how this disease affects a family, a community. Recently I completed a script examining the twists, turns, and bumps in the breast cancer journey.
Today, I have a renewed excitement for working towards a "cure", giving "cancer real talk", and creating awareness by any means necessary. The Coalition of Blacks Against Breast Cancer (CBBC) is the only group within the Phoenix Metropolitan area that specifically targets Black men and women of African descent diagnosed with breast cancer.
The coalition is an initiative of the Phoenix Chapter of the Links, Inc., Sigma Pi Phi Gamma Mu Boule, and Mayo Clinic. The CBBC was developed to bring education and awareness, to provide access to treatment, and to better understand health care disparities among African-American breast cancer patients. The CBBC membership meetings take place the third Sunday of each month, 3 - 5 pm, at the Wellness Community, 360 E. Palm Lane in Phoenix. Anyone interested in learning more about breast cancer treatment, support, and care are welcome to attend.