This is a month with special meaning for Alexis Hamilton. While many make donations in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, for Hamilton it is personal.
Hamilton, a 27-year-old mother and Florida A&M University journalism student, has been a breast cancer survivor since January 2018.
At age 26, Hamilton went to the doctor’s office for what was supposed to be a regular checkup, but turned into something far more serious. After telling the doctor that she had been experiencing some pain in her right breast, the doctors took one look and decided she needed to get examined.
Once she got the test results back from her biopsy, it was confirmed that she had a mass. Hamilton was diagnosed with stage 2-A breast cancer, that later progressed to stage 3.
“When I first found out I was so worried due to the fact she was a full-time student, working, and a full-time mommy. She was doing everything on her own, which I knew was hard, mentally,” Shay Jewell, a close friend, said.
Hamilton says after researching the survival rates, she found that the chances of survival were only 72 percent. She immediately freaked out.
“I thought I was going to die, I tried not to think about it because I knew I would become depressed,” Hamilton said.
She had surgery to get the mass removed. She was told that the doctors could not remove the entire mass and that she would have to undergo radiation to address the rest of the mass.
For 16 weeks during the entire fall semester of 2018, Hamilton was doing radiation therapy, taking her daughter to school, going to work, and then going to school for five days a week.
“I would help her out the best way I could, from picking up her daughter from school, and maybe watching her a few days so that Alexis could study or have time to herself,” Jewell said.
Hamilton says there is no history of breast cancer in her family, but that her mom is a pancreatic cancer survivor.
“It took everybody by surprise that I had breast cancer because nobody in my family had it, and I was so young,” Hamilton said.
Theo Robinson, Hamilton’s child’s father, was also caught off-guard.
“When I first got the news, it was scary,” he said. “it was tough on her, but she’s a warrior. When she let me know she beat it, it was a huge relief, but I felt like she was going to beat it.
“She’s been through so much. She’s as tough as they come,” Robinson added.
Hamilton says that when she got the news that her breast cancer was in remission, she cried tears of joy. “It didn’t seem real,” she said.
Hamilton said it was a long process and waiting on results could be agonizing.
Hamilton continues to get regular checkups to assure herself that her health is good and that the cancer remains in remission. There is a five-year time frame in which it could return.
Hamilton says that others going through breast cancer, or any type of cancer, should “always stay positive, and take things day by day, because when you think negative that’s when you start to block your blessings.”