Sat | Jan 19, 2019

There is life after mastectomy...Woman marries after removing her breast, tells women it is not end of world

Published:Thursday | October 22, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Shirlene Morgan-Bailey tells how she overcame breast cancer.

Woman marries after removing her breast, tells women it is not end of world

MORANT BAY, St Thomas:

The autumn days of October, when the leaves have all turned yellow, people around the world can be seen sporting buttons of pink to commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Catchy phrases like 'I walk for breasts' and 'Save the ta-tas' are posted everywhere. Shirlene Morgan-Bailey is a survivor of the disease that has killed thousands of women the world over.

"In January 2010, I started having a discomforting feeling in my left breast and I realised that there was something hard there. Days after, I realised the discomfort was still there, so I visited a private doctor who recommended that I do a mammogram, which led to me doing a few more tests," Morgan-Bailey told Rural Xpress.

She said even before she collected the results, she had an idea what they were.

According to her: "My doctor had his suspicions, too; he was very open with me."

The results confirmed both their suspicions, Morgan-Bailey had breast cancer.

"When I got the proof, I felt like I was entering into a void, like my surroundings had disappeared. I wasn't even thinking about myself as much as I was thinking about my children and how they would react. As expected, my daughter cried non-stop when she saw the results," Morgan-Bailey shared.

She said she decided to take the illness one step at a time.

"I did the surgery the same week and got the mastectomy done. Then I started the chemotherapy. I am currently on my final year of treatment," she said proudly.

Morgan-Bailey said she did not have any reservations about removing her breast as she was only thinking about life and not her physique.

"For me, it was about surviving. The doctor gave me options, but I had already made up my mind," she said, adding that the mastectomy was the more trusted route.

She ensured that her surgery did not affect her personal life. She got married a few years after and speaks fondly of her husband.

"He's so nice! We met after I had already lost my breast and he didn't mind. He treats me no less or differently," she said, almost blushing at the thought of her husband.

Morgan-Bailey advised women who are struggling with breast cancer: "The best people to talk to are those who have survived, not those who are going through the treatment with you. While me and the other women were being treated, we were so scared and fed off each other's fear. Survivors can help you because they know exactly what you're going through as they've been there, too.

"One day, a lady walked into my workplace and I could tell she was undergoing treatment. Chemo discolours the skin and causes hair loss. Whether you wear a wig, I can still tell. It's a look I'll never forget.

"It is also important that you do not listen to those who are recommending various sorts of pills and bush remedies. What works for someone else may not work for you. Listen to your doctor. He or she makes recommendations based on the test results," she suggested.

Morgan-Bailey testifies that it was her positive attitude and that of those around her which helped her to survive.

"Negative energy adds to stress. You don't want people around you crying or treating you differently. I had a positive mentality throughout the years. You have to be a fighter. It's an internal fight that will quickly brush away the insecurities of losing a breast. The time spent on worrying can be better used to research your condition. Breast cancer is not a death sentence," she said.