Diagnosed at the age of 43 in May 2001, breast cancer survivor Delores Clemons wore her experience as an armor fighting in the battle field flawlessly. Many wouldn’t have guessed her story and few were told. Her advice she gives to women is to always give yourself a breast examination.
In your 1 year testimony you stated you were taking a shower before bed when you felt a small lump on the upper right side of your chest, what were your thoughts after feeling the lump and did you immediately think that it was breast cancer?
“No, I didn’t. Breast cancer was far from my mind. I didn’t even think nothing like that. It was like I haven’t even heard of breast cancer. It was far from my mind. I thought that it could’ve been like a cyst, you know just a hard cyst or something like that. Never thought it was cancer. Cancer didn’t even enter my mind.”
So what made you want to call the doctor?
“See I had already had knowledge about you have to take your mammogram and if you feel a hard cyst go ahead and get it checked out cause it could be something serious, it could be cancer but I’m just saying I didn’t even think it could be me. Cancer wasn’t even in my, you know, because I was young so I just thought cancer was just for old people. So by me being young it never entered my mind that it could’ve been cancer. But it entered my mind that I needed to get it checked out because it could’ve been like a cyst.”
Mrs. Clemons stated that the unusual thing about her lump is the fact that it was sticking out and could have been overlooked if it was smaller. Delores also had her husband, Willie Clemons, test the lump who also agreed that it was best to see a doctor. Her doctor sent Mrs. Clemons to a specialist, Dr. Phillips, who gave her a biopsy. Still unaware that she could be diagnosed with breast cancer, Mrs. Clemons received a phone call from the doctor two weeks later. Mrs. Clemons and her husband met with Dr. Phillips who informed her that she had been diagnosed. In shock by what the doctor told her Delores was in disbelief.
Dr. Phillips informed Mrs. Clemons that her breast may have to get removed, however, Mrs. Clemons wanted to save it if possible. In her favor the cancer did not spread and she was able to save her breast. Dr. Phillips gave her 3 doses of chemotherapy every 3 weeks and radiation for 46 days.
“I went home and got on my knees and I just prayed. I just talked to God and just asked him to let me live because I heard so much awful things about cancer and I was like why me..why me?” said Delores. Because of her healthy lifestyle, Delores couldn’t understand why she was the one diagnosed with breast cancer. Her prayer was to be able to stay alive to take care of her family who depended on her and work.
“My hair was already long and thick. I woke up and started brushing my hair, combing my hair, and it felt so spongy it was just so weird. My hair was combing out in the comb.” She then purchased a wig because she didn’t want to tell anybody. Not even her mother and select friends. With her hair coming out she still felt fine and healthy. “I was just waiting for something to happen you know. Everybody was always saying that you lose weight, you get sick, you get tired, and you know you be dragging. The only thing that came out that kind of just devastated me because I liked my long hair. And that was pretty much the hardest thing. It may seem shallow but that was the hardest thing to see my hair leave because it made me look totally different.”
When you started wearing your wig do you think anybody noticed?
“They thought it was a fashion statement because people at work wore wigs so they thought maybe I was into the fashion statement. They didn’t even think nothing of that because I still looked healthy.”
Mrs. Clemons even attended her 25th High School class reunion while she was going through her chemo treatment and her classmates could not believe the news when she told them. They were shocked by how healthy she looked. However, while she may have not looked like she had been diagnosed with breast cancer she kept the information from people that were close to her for quite some time-including her mother and son Travis Clemons. Delores also told her grandmother and discovered that she too was diagnosed with breast cancer. After years of being a survivor Delores’ grandmother started complaining about her arm and went to the doctor. She started having the pain after getting a shot in the arm on the side she had surgery. She was told that her cancer had spread and passed away on January 6, 2005.
“Every year you know I celebrate. Thank you Lord for allowing me to see another year, because the truth be told, my doctor said Delores you still have to get your mammogram every year.” Said Delores.
How did you feel the year after you were diagnosed? Knowing that you were still healthy.
“I felt good. I started exercising more. I changed my diet, I changed my exercising. I started going to the gym, I mean faithful.”
How has your relationship with God changed?
“I was going to church but I wasn’t going to church regularly and it changed you know me by getting involved. I said you know God you’ve been good to me, I got to get in church and start showing my talent. I started tithing more. I started getting involved in the church. I started letting that be my first priority. I started praying like-because I use to love to go out dancing and going to club. I started asking, Lord take this desire to club all the time…… All of that changed my faith because I saw how God was so good to me…..and that’s the reason now I make it my business to go to church.”
Mrs. Clemons supports breast cancer awareness month by attending walks and other workshops and events in the community. She firmly believes that what God has for her is for her and enjoys sharing her testimony so that others can keep their faith and believe that God will bring them through.