Breast cancer patient Patricia Pickering has come out to speak on how black communities do not talk about breast cancer enough.
Pickering was diagnosed in 2017 with stage 2 Triple negative breast cancer which is described as a more aggressive and difficult to treat type of cancer that is more likely to spread and reoccur.
In an interview with The Lounge, Pickering highlighted that there was a need to raise more awareness surrounding the diseases as it is more prevalent in black women.
She explained that there seemed to be a stigma around the disease because in most cases when ever she comes across posters that speak about cancer, there would always be white women on it.
“Cancer is like an unspoken topic amongst the black community. I think we need to raise more awareness amongst black women with regards to the disease, we need to start educating our daughters and fellow females to check themselves.
We need to start putting other faces to this disease. This is not a white people’s disease only. In my case my GP advised that my daughters check themselves at least once a week given my situation and it’s up to people like me to become more vocal and speak out about it only then will change come about”.
Drifting into her thoughts while telling her story of how it all began, Pickering shares how devastating it was when she found out she had cancer, while at the same time expressing gratitude that it was detected at an early stage.
“At the end of October last year, I went to have a normal physical check up with no intention of doing a mammogram. I then said to my GP let me do a mammogram because I haven’t done one in a while.
She sent me to have it done, and I was very shocked when she told me that they had detected breast cancer in me.
I was very emotional when I found out because all of a sudden I was afraid of everything. I questioned a lot as why it had to be me”.
Pickering then went to Johannesburg to get a second opinion and thereafter in December she started with chemo.
She notes that at the time she had six sessions done which were all quite strong.
“After my chemo I went back to Johannesburg and in May this year I had a double mastectomy and a reconstruction done”.
A double mastectomy is the removal of the whole breast.
There are five types of mastectomy such as simple or total mastectomy, modified radical mastectomy, radical mastectomy, partial mastectomy, and subcutaneous mastectomy.
In July, she then also started 25 rounds of radiation which she has finished and is now awaiting to hear from the doctor to find out if she is cancer free.
Yesterday Patricia was informed that she is finally cancer free.
“It is a very tense time; the cancer is hereditary and it is from my father’s side. Two of my aunts had cancer where one of them actually died from it.
I always encourage my daughters to go for regular check-ups”. She further explained that she has tried to stay very positive when it comes to the disease.
“I have got quite a strong character, I haven’t really allowed it to get me down, I mean there are moments where I still question things because it emotionally, mentally and physically draining but I continue going through the chemo.
I stay positive because I want to live for my daughters, that’s what drives me.
Although I am so very scared for my daughters, because I would never want them to go through something like this, I make them aware that it’s a possibility because we can’t hide away from it”.
She concluded her interview by noting that she does not allow the cancer to define her as well as not also allow people to look at her nor treat her differently.