Survivor Recalls Struggle with Breast Cancer

“It’s kind of a strange story of how it happened,” said Kirkland. “I was putting some putting some boxes in a warehouse, and I fell and hit my breast.”

“I’ve got this little lump right here about the size of an acorn,” Kirkland recalled telling the nurse.

“They never did say ‘you had cancer,’ but, they acted very quickly,” said Kirkland. “I just thought it was some sort of a cyst.”

“I went to have the biopsy and Dr. Deeb walks in the room and tells me that I had breast cancer,” said Kirkland. “I had no time to think, and no time to prepare for anything.”

“At about 10:00 a.m. Dr. Deeb called me and told me that he was going to do a lumpectomy,” said Kirkland.

“They took some lymph nodes under my armpit, and found one small spot,” said Kirkland. “The small spot didn’t change the regimen, so they sent me to an oncologist.”

“There is a screening mammogram, where four pictures are taken from an aerial and side view of each breast,” said Breon. “We then put the breast on a platform and we compress it with a paddle.”

“Through an ultrasound, a radiologist can see if the breast is calcified and malignant,” said Breon.

Kirkland, with 20 years of medical experience, wanted to know the procedure, and her statistics, but she said the oncologist was impersonal, and unreliable. Dissatisfied, Kirkland located a new oncologist, in Gainesville. The oncologist offered the proper procedure that could treat her stage II breast cancer.

“Mine was non-estrogen positive, or what they call ductal carcinoma,” said Kirkland. “It was isolated to the nipple area, where it was non-responsive to estrogen.”

“At some point, I knew that I could die from this,” said Kirkland. “You do what you have to do to be preventative.

Kirkland immediately had 18 weeks of radiation at the hospital, and nine months of chemotherapy.

“At the very end I became very allergic to something and I had nearly died at the last dose of it,” said Kirkland. “I didn’t lose all of my hair, but I lost a lot of it.”

“A friend of mine is three-fourths of the way through her radiation, and she’s getting good reports from doctors,” said Mancusso.

“It threw me into a menopause stage where I no longer had menstrual cycles,” said Kirkland. “It’s a poison, and it’s designed to kill those cancer cells.”

“For our generation, I think breast cancer awareness stops at awareness,” said Stryker at Florida A&M’s annual Pink-Tie Ball, an awareness event hosted by the university’s Student Government Association.

“It’s like a bomb, or an explosion, that goes off in your life,” said Kirkland.

“My family is a big loving family, and my kids are my hope,” said Kirkland. “I really didn’t have time to concentrate on being sick.”

“I did go to a Relay for Life event, and it was a life changing experience for me,” said Kirkland. “I began to be able to talk about it, and I saw a lot of other people who were a lot more sick than I was.” Groups like the Chrome Divas, the Women’s Pavilion, and Relay for Life have been a relief for her.”It’s therapeutic to tell other people,” said Kirkland. “The impact from the groups has helped me to get it out.” Kirkland remains steadfast as a survivor, and not a statistic, in the battle against breast cancer.