One year ago to the date I wrote to you, shortly after I was diagnosed with a type of breast cancer called invasive ductual carcinoma. I am very grateful for the amazing support and love I received after this article.
Several women both at home and abroad, who were diagnosed with breast cancer and were about to embark on their journey contacted me. It was during that time I discovered that happiness would be the vehicle that would take me successfully along this journey.
No one could have convinced me at that time that this unfortunate diagnosis would lead to the establishment of a most powerful sisterhood and fraternity, called Basia Survivor Network, affectionately called BSN, for women and men diagnosed with breast cancer.
So much was happening in my life then that I needed to go to a place that all that mattered was love, healing and happiness. It was clear to me that I had to create it, not just for me but for other women who were experiencing the same pain. At BSN we help you find true happiness during a very difficult time in your life. Little did I know then that my diagnosis would become my calling.
After my diagnosis, I spent more time listening to God than questioning him. I declared aloud, "God you have never taken anything from me without giving me better. (I guess that accounts for the brand new boobs!) And then I asked him, "What do you want me to do?" He instructed me and gave me the strength to form BSN, while receiving treatment for chemotherapy. I obeyed, despite the fact that some people did not understand what I was doing and the resistance I received from the Devil. I never lost sight of the fact that God took care of me every step of the way and I truly believe that when you are healed it is your spiritual obligation to pursue the healing of others.
After I disclosed to the world that I was diagnosed with breast cancer, many people (some public figures) disclosed to me that they were survivors of breast and other forms of cancer. While I celebrate with them and I am proud that they won their battle, I am sad that many of these people do not share more with other cancer patients. I recognise that many consider this to be a private matter, however you will never understand how healing and comforting it is for a cancer patient to look at a world full of survivors than a wall full of persons who have passed away.
My mother recently told me that what I did by sharing was a bold move, because when she was my age people just did not do that. In fact many of her friends who were diagnosed with cancer did not share it with anyone. It was a family secret. So much so they called it the big C! I found that to be sad, as my research shows that anything you fear will conquer you. I don't know anyone whose life has not been affected by a cancer diagnosis in one way or the other. It affects everybody and we need to come together to fight this disease and reduce the mortality rate in the Caribbean.
During my diagnosis when I was listening for His instruction He said, "I did not give you a spirit of fear and I love you unconditionally." This came at a time when I decided that the wig was not for me and I was about to enjoy my re-birth. I decided to change my diet, attitude, wardrobe and to show women through my network to love themselves unconditionally and become baldheaded divas!
In one year, my Basia team and I created a brand called Basia Survivor Network with a glamourous approach to surviving breast cancer. We also created the Beat Breast Cancer Music Festival to show the region and the rest of the world how to beat breast cancer in a very unconventional way. Today I am truly happy, and even though as my best friend forever (BFF) tells me,'You said you were slowing down; but you know this is the most you have ever done?" I had no response at the time. But I say to her and everyone else that nothing I have ever done has ever been this fulfilling or has made me this happy. What can I say, I was just being obedient. I know now that God chose me for a reason and I shall not disappoint him, as this journey was ordained. I now recognise that anytime you are faced with a major challenge in your life it is also a crossroad. So I chose the road less travelled and told the whole world and took cancer on in an unconventional way that would inspire people to be proud of themselves for being survivors.
A major stop on this journey is the beat Breast Cancer Music Festival, that First Citizens and Basia Foundation will host on October 31 at the Queen's Park Savannah. It starts at 12 p.m. No one could have convinced me that a breast cancer journey would result in the regions leading celebrities coming together to raise funds for PET/CT scans and reconstructive surgeries for men and women diagnosed with breast cancer. An event that will air live around the region. At times I am certain that I get too much credit for this, because I know I am the vessel that God used to do this assignment. My story could have been so much different. So I am thankful for this blessing. I now take life one day at a time, and please know that I take no day for granted. I now enjoy what I have been put on the planet to do and I am doing it Basia Style!
I now say to everyone diagnosed with breast cancer, it does not have to take your life it can teach you how to live. Do not be afraid, sometimes what seems to be the worst thing that has ever happened to you, can be the start of a whole new day. All that is required is a clean heart, obedience and finding happiness. I am very grateful to my fabulous husband, the rest of my family, our team at Basia and my BSN sisters for embracing my unconventional approach to this journey and for believing in me. I look forward to your continued support. I also wish to thank First Citizens, Baptists Health, Guardian Life, Guardian Holdings, TV6, Hilton Trinidad, Heart Beat 103.5 FM-radio for women, Toyota, Nescafe, Orchard, Svelty, and bmobile for trusting our approach to this cause as we host the Caribbean charity event of the year.
In the early period of my diagnosis, those first few days felt like a bad dream that would never end. I knew very little about breast cancer then. What I know now is that fighting cancer requires educating yourself, happiness, faith, and unconditional love. I now understand the experience. I also feel that our attitudes and mindsets must change if we are to save lives. I do not feel for a minute that my network has all the solutions, because we don't. I feel that cancer requires a society to beat it, not one organisation or person, and we are simply doing our part. On October 31 it will all make sense when we see a savannah full of white, fuchsia pink and chocolate brown. Don't miss it. I'll see you there.
From my heart to yours.