Breast cancer survivors' stories
Patricia Riley was elated as she expressed how grateful she is for life and every new day that comes with it as a breast-cancer survivor. Riley, who is now 52 years old, was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago.
"I never used to do tests and screenings as I did not worry too much about breast cancer. However, one day I was taking a shower and felt a lump under my arm. I didn't think much of it, so I left it," Riley told The Gleaner.
The lump was still there two days later, however, so she decided to seek some medical advice from her doctor.
"Two months later, I ended up doing a biopsy because the doctor said he saw a mass in my breast. I collected the result later on and found out it was cancer. I cried and felt really bad because I thought I was going to die. I felt like the frustration and stress alone was going to kill me," Riley said.
"Thanks to some good advice, I went on to do surgery and chemotherapy to have the cancer removed. Chemotherapy is not easy, trust me. It took me about two weeks to do the surgery because it was aggressive. I had not detected it early enough," she added.
Member of reach to recovery
During the ordeal Riley joined Reach to Recovery, which is a voluntary group of breast-cancer survivors, friends and well-wishers that meets every month at the Jamaica Cancer Society.
"I joined Reach to Recovery because I needed somebody to talk to, to exchange my thoughts with and get advice from. They are like a family to me - family, as they helped me through everything," she added.
Riley also stated that the cancer scare changed her life and advised women to get tested at least once per year as there are many benefits to be gained from ongoing self-examination and annual screenings as a means of reducing vulnerability to breast cancer.
"Early detection is the best way of addressing breast cancer. If I had waited any longer, I would have died because it was getting aggressive and the more aggressive it gets, the faster it moves. I have a 13-year-old daughter and I told her it's nothing to be afraid of. She knows that when her time comes, she should go and take the necessary tests," Riley said.