Gladys Jefferson – Survivor

July 20th, 2007

Gladys JeffersonBeing a nurse of 33 years, you would think that I would have noticed the signs that there was a lump, some tenderness and would have had it checked sooner. But after spending those years lifting so many patients in the hospital, I injured my back resulting in my early retirement. It was the prescribed pain medication I was taking that prevented me from feeling any discomfort in my left breast.

So on a warm summer Monday in 1998 while lying across my bed, my granddaughter jumped on the bed accidentally elbowing me in the chest. I remember still the sharp pain but that it would subside. It didn’t. An hour or so later I went to the bathroom to check myself. I did a self-exam, then the pinch… and there it was, the dimple. My heart skipped a beat. I immediately went to the phone, called my daughter in Detroit to tell her my suspicion. She calmly told me to just call my doctor and stop trying to self diagnose my condition. So I did. My appointment was on a Tuesday; my results came back on Wednesday; on Friday I went under the knife with a complete mastectomy.

I remember that week trying to recall if any of the women in my immediate family had breast cancer… not one. I was the first (and prayerfully the only one). With no cancer cells in my right breast, I was able to keep it. Due to my age, and the loving support of my husband, Arthur, I chose to not have reconstructive surgery. I had experienced enough after the radiation and chemotherapy. I simply wanted to live a longer life with my family.

I have to share that during such a traumatic time, nothing is more helpful that a family that is there for you. My oldest granddaughter at the age of 22 did the unthinkable to demonstrate her love for me. The day before my appointment to cut my hair short before it would come out due to chemo, she spent two hours in the bathroom, coming out totally bald! Her reason? She said simply, “Grandma, since our heads are shaped alike, I wanted to show you how gorgeous you are going to look with no hair, just like me!” Now THAT is love.

In 2006, my daughter, Aj (Jemison) Coffee, decided to ride her motorcycle to Florida with Divas For A Cure to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research. In 2007 she rode the entire ride with a stop here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is committed to riding each year, and I couldn’t be more proud. I am thankful for all of the people and sponsors that donate to Divas For A Cure. This is a worthy cause, educating on the importance of early detection and providing funds toward research. God bless you all.

Comments are closed.

Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲