Writer and creator Shenae Craig opened up about her breast cancer diagnosis in the latest episode of theGrio series “Unheard.”
Craig, New York guide site Secret NYC editor, was 31 years old when she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer nearly a year ago.
“One of the reasons why when I felt a lump in the shower, I just immediately knew it was breast cancer is because two of my mom’s sisters have had breast cancer in the past,” Craig, who was diagnosed in November, told theGrio.
“One, she died in Jamaica,” Craig revealed. “The other one, we heard about later on and she’s alive, but me and my mom’s youngest sister — who is closer to my age — we used to talk about it all the time and just wonder, like, if it would hit us, how would we go about that?”
Craig is a culture commentator whose work is centered on the Jamaican and Caribbean diaspora, as well as creatives and businesses of color.
Black women have a higher chance of developing breast cancer before the age of 40, according to statistics from the American Cancer Society.
Dr. Donna-Marie Manasseh, director of breast surgery at the Maimonides Breast Cancer Center in Brooklyn, New York, has described breast cancer as a plague.
“Its normal cells that gained abnormal ability to spread from their primary site, the breast,” Manasseh said. “The cause of breast cancer actually isn’t exactly known detail for detail. We do know that it’s associated with estrogen because women are more likely to get it than men.”
“There are probably other multitude of factors that influence whether a normal breast cell [becoming] a cancer cell, things such as genetic factors, what you inherit from your family as well as environmental factors, stress, lack of sleep, the types of food you eat, the things you’re exposed to. As in many cancers, breast cancer is probably the result of many factors.”
Craig’s journey to beating beating cancer was aided by the care of Memorial Sloan Kettering, along with chemotherapy, surgery (double mastectomy and reconstruction) and radiation.
“After the surgery, I had like a very, very dark moment of just like being like, ‘Yo, my body is not really mine anymore,’ which was pretty rough,” Craig said. “I won’t say that that thought process or that feeling is behind me because it’s still going to come up, but I will definitely say that I feel better than I did those days because I don’t look crazy, I don’t feel as crazy as I did.”
To the warriors out there who are going through a similar journey with stage 2 breast cancer, Craig said: “the biggest thing, and it sounds cliche to say, but it’s not a death sentence.”
“It’s okay to be sad over your hair. You can be sad because your life is changing and it’s not your choice, your body is changing and it’s not your choice,” Craig said.
“Be okay with mourning your body and grieving the life you once had. You will continue to do it, but don’t feel guilty about it. And don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about that either. Take as much time as you need to get used to your new normal,” she added.
Check out the video above for the Shenae Craig’s full story.
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