Sisterhood Saved Me: I Have the Scar to Prove It (T. Lloyd)
“Tassy, check your breast.”
My aunt’s voice was unusually stern. Her brown locks swung past her shoulders as she waited for me to do it that very second. So, I did. I placed my right hand on my left breast and felt a lump the size of a chickpea. I opened my eyes and jumped out of bed.
It was only a dream, right? There’s no way I have a lump in my breast. Not after my dad died. Not after the way my dad died. No. That just wouldn’t be fair. God wouldn’t do that to me. I just stopped being mad at God and this is what I get?
I stared into the mirror with the tears rolling like an angry river. The phrase “drowning in your own sorrow” suddenly made sense. The stream of tears continued to roll, making a puddle atop the two mounds on my chest. I paid attention to my stretchmarks reaching outward from my areolas like beams of sunlight. My breasts were full like two ripe grapefruits and so pale I could see my blue veins clearly under the skin.
I placed my right hand on my left breast and felt a lump the size of a chickpea. It wasn’t just a dream. Forty-five minutes later, Dr. K met me sitting on the floor outside of his office.
“I..I..I…I don’t have an appointment but I..I…I can’t leave until you see me. There’s a lump.” The words stumbled out of my mouth, reminiscent of a confused drunk who showed up at the wrong house in the middle of the night. I wasn’t supposed to be here. The tears were rolling down my face like boulders now. My chest was tight. My throat was tight. My hands were shaking as I began undressing while walking into the examination room.
“My hands might be cold.”
“I don’t care, I need you to touch it.” His fingers pressed firmly around the outer loop of my breast, then the inner loop, and finally around the areola.
“I can’t find it. Are you sure?”
I whispered, “I am sure,” as I placed his fingers on top of the lump.
His eyes widened but he was confident that even with my family history we had nothing to worry about.
“I’ll do a quick biopsy and if it’s normal, we’ll just leave it alone, ok?”
The word normal no longer meant anything to me, not after my dad died. He went to the hospital for a stomachache and came out with a rare form of cancer that in more ways than one, killed us all. Things were either bad or very bad, but nothing was normal.
When I got home, I pushed the lump out of my mind. It wasn’t going to have power over me. I told myself that God wouldn’t give me cancer. This wasn’t going to be my story.
“Constantly, you are told, check your breast, check your breast, but no one tells you what to do with the gut wrenching feeling you get when you actually find something...I am going to die of cancer at the age of 28. Before I’m married, before I have kids, before both of my parents, before I’ve seen anything. I was so afraid without any information about what was really even happening in my body.”
Ashley’s words scrolled across my screen and it was as if time stopped. To this day, my eyes water at the thought that God saw it fit for me to read that message. I had a ticking time bomb in my chest that I wasn’t ready to deal with. I needed more time, I wanted more time, fuck, I deserved more time. I wanted to teach my daughter how to put on her makeup, how to drive, budget and cook a signature dish. I didn’t think it would be fair for my mom to lose the love of her life and then her only daughter right after. I didn’t want my mother to bury me.
Even though I knew better, I couldn’t talk about the lump, I couldn’t touch it. I could not face it.. I knew that 1 in 8 women would be diagnosed with breast cancer. I knew that someone in my group chat would be the unlucky one. I just didn’t want to know if it was me. But I kept reading Ashley’s post and when I got to the end, a voice said, “If I could save her, why wouldn’t I save you?”
Maybe it was God or maybe it was me being extremely hopeful but if Ashley’s God was real then so was mine.
It had been three months since I looked at myself topless in the mirror. I put my right hand on my left breast. The lump had grown to the size of a walnut now.
When I walked back into Dr. K’s office, I was eerily calm. Ashley’s transparency had given me permission to be afraid and show up anyway. Whether she knew it or not, sharing her story changed the ending to my own.
A year after my lumpectomy, lab results and countless ultrasounds, I was given a clean bill of health. I will never forget collapsing into my mother’s arms after reading the word BENIGN. We had gotten our lives back.
Sometimes God shows off in your sister’s life to remove any doubt you have in your own. Here’s how God moves… God sent my favorite aunt to send me a message. Ashley’s blog post encouraged me when no one else could because I hadn’t told anybody about the lump at that point.
These are not mistakes or coincidences. God had a job to do in my life and sent Black women to get it done. Interceding in divine ways is the core of our sisterhood.
My prayer is that we give our sisters permission to be themselves, fully. Be afraid and show up anyway. Be heartbroken and still hopeful. Be mad as fuck and unapologetic about it if it’s for the right reason. Know that I have been through the storm you’re standing in and my hands are stretched out to pull you through. I will go ahead of you and forge a path. I will be behind you to catch you if you fall. I will be beside you when you need company. I will do for you what she has done for me, because my sister saved me.
This post is written by T. Lloyd, as part of DEAR QUEENS’ Sisterhood Saved Me series., dedicated to honoring, celebrating, and inspiring black female friendship.
T Lloyd is the creative mind behind tassika.com. She was born the youngest of six sisters, and used to think that was too many. But after having countless black women pour into her, there’s no such thins as having too many sisters. T Lloyd writes for us [black women], about us, and to us using love as her editor and God as her publisher.