Do you remember the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child"? While in my battle with cancer, I have learned that it takes a community to beat cancer. During my journey, it felt as if all cards were stacked against me. What about my job, what about my children, what about dinner? These are just a few of the questions that cross the minds of our sisters.
This project highlights a few of our sisters whose stories are unique and would benefit from support from an expanded community.
The women highlighted below have been negatively impacted by Covid. We are calling on your support to help encourage these women to remain courageous in their fight.
If you are interested in donating gift cards or offering other support, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (216) 333-1819 x 6.
Have you ever been asked to do something that you first thought would be easy? You put fingers to keyboard keys, pen to paper, and you just keep drawing blanks. It's not that you can't but more so that you are exhausted from hearing and saying three little/big words over and over out loud.
Hi, my name is Shameka Genelle Sawyer, I am the second of my mother's 3 daughters, and 1 of the 2 still living. I was born, December 11th, 1976, in the back of an ambulance truck. Yes, I came into the world on my own terms and for 42 years I lived life much the same. I am the proud mother of a 20 year old son and until last year, I admit, he was my biggest concern. For the sake of time, I'll fast forward to life since the pandemic began. On May 1st, 2020, I was furloughed from my job of 20 years. For the first time since I was sixteen I found myself without work. The world was upside down and troubled on every side. I tried to keep my head above water and for the most part I did; however, it seemed that the pandemic was hitting closer and closer to home. In my mind, I thought, it can't possibly get worse than that. I was so wrong.
It had been two years since my last mammogram and because of some symptoms I was having I was extremely anxious about this mammogram. October 14th came and I went in for a MRI mammogram; followed by two biopsies. On October 22nd, 2020, I heard the 3 words that changed my life forever, "You have cancer." Invasive ductal carcinoma in my left breast and ductal carcinoma in situ in my right. I was alone, all by myself, with all those words, playing like an out of tune piano in my ears. I didn't hear much after that; however, I managed to repeat it over and over for each family member and friend I told..My boyfriend was the first person I told and then my mom. Can you imagine what it's like to tell a mother who has already lost a child that her other child has cancer? In addition, to that, my oldest sister was still in the hospital after a major back surgery and I still have to tell her. At 43 years old my life went from worrying about my 20 year old son, to the biggest fight of my life. Oh but it can't possibly get worse...Oh yes it can. The hope of a lumpectomy was drowned out by the overwhelming amount of calcifications in the right breast, leaving me with only one choice, mastectomy on the right side and lumpectomy on the left. At that moment I remembered what it was like to live life on my own terms. Since one without the other just won't do, I decided a double mastectomy was the best decision for me.
Life has been weird since December 18th, 2021 and I must admit I don't miss my girls as much as I thought I would. Life has a way of showing up and reminds us of just how precious life is and how miniscule outward appearance can be when it comes to life and death. Since the diagnosis of cancer, I have met so many wonderful people, from so many different walks of life, somehow connected by the same unfortunate circumstance. God, family and friends, and the beautiful people who make up My Sister's Keeper, continue to help me through some of the days when I forget that it's really on my own terms even if it's not by my own doing. In the midst of a pandemic, in the loss of my job, even at the sound of "You have cancer," I'm still here. I'm a fearless, warrior woman, who didn't have cancer but cancer had me.
I'm Qi-Qi, I was told I have metastatic breast cancer July 2019. This blew my mind because I thought cancer was in my rear view. I am 34, a mom, and have my whole life ahead of me.
I was "cancer free" in October 2018. Metastatic Breast Cancer doesn't have a cure...yet! My last PET scan showed I now have cancer in my bones and in 3 different places in my back. Radiation is not an option. Too much radiation will result in damage to my spine. I am on the latest drugs for this type of cancer (Enhertu) which was released in January 2020. Doctors are not sure if it is working or not. What may work for one person may not work for another. After being told that there is no other options, I know that I cannot give up the battle because of my children. I have been set up to being hospice services and working hard to tell myself that hospice does not mean its the end.
I must continue my fight and I am now seeking alternative options. This includes receiving treatment and hopefully a new prognosis from the Cancer Treatment Centers of Atlanta. I have too much to live for and know it isn't over until I say it is.
Updates on prior honorees
Born in Cleveland, OH - August 12,1972
Keisha has 2 children and 2 grand daughters. In late 2020, she was diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer after seeing her doctor with a concern of discoloration.
On October 11, 2020, Keisha toe was amputated and was unable to work for months due to her recovery and treatment. She was approved for short-term disability which was 60% of her pay and not enough to cover rent.
During her recovery, Keisha depleted her time on FMLA, benefits, and later was no longer employed.
Today, Keisha household expenses are unpaid and she heavily scrutinizes what to pay as she continues to recover.
Her landlord has been supportive. She has applied for several rental assistance programs but was denied. She is currently waiting for responses from other applications she had submitted.
Since January, Keisha works for a temp agency and was on the mend. She later tested positive for COVID. She had to begin quarantining which resulted in her losing her assignment with the temp agency.
"So I’m knocked but I know my God won’t fail me I’m in the mist of the storm but he will pull me through Amen 🙏
I’m going to keep smiling and praising him."
Kiesha is doing well. She has been connected to partners of MySKCle to help her with rental mediation and job placement. She has an interview lined up the end of April.
On behalf of Keisha, thank you for your support.
Shannon was diagnosed with breast cancer in early November of 2020. As of late January 2021 Shannon was diagnosed with Covid-19 and is now in a medically induced coma fighting for her life. Shannon is a wife and is raising 4 adopted boys ages 11,13,15, & 18 (18 with special needs) on his own while also trying to maintain his full time job.
Shannon's story is like many women who have been impacted by cancer. However, what makes Shannon's story different is the additional layer of caution - that is covid.
Many of us worry about contracting the virus while we have immune systems that are in tact. When undergoing chemotherapy, one's immune system can be depleted making patients susceptible to contracting deadly illness.
In light of this many women, like Shannon has been unable to work in order to remain safe as prescribed by her healthcare provider.
This is just a peak into our sister's life and we ask for your help during this time.
Shannon is awake and is at home recovering. She recently underwent surgery to remove the cancer. She has to learn how to walk again and remains hopeful. She thanks everyone for their support, thoughts and prayers.