My name is Michelle Allman (a.k.a. Lady Mea) - President/CEO of Karibbean Under One Magazine (KUOM), and I am a nine year Breast Cancer survivor. Allow me to share my thoughts….my pain….my story. Nine years ago, I heard the most frightening words that no woman wishes to hear "You have breast cancer". As I struggled to absorb the news and began to consider what options I had, it just didn't make any sense, because I never thought I would ever hear those words. Six months prior my oldest sister Valerie was diagnosed with Lymphoma Cancer (which begins in the lymphatic cells of the immune system and presents as a solid tumor of lymphoid cells). As I coped with my sister having cancer, I remember thinking to myself, how would I handle something like that? Because I couldn't image what was going through in her mind. As faith would have it, that time did come, and all I could remember were well-meaning friends and colleagues showering me with advice, "get a second opinion," "think positive," talk to someone who's going or been through it." It all sounded reasonable, but was it the best advice for me? That's something I had to decide for myself. Like every woman with breast cancer, you will be faced with so many challenges.
I had to figure a way to cope. My first thought was, how much time did I have? Then I looked at my life, and realized the stage I was at currently; it was not a very good place, because I had placed God second in my life. I even blamed him for allowing it to happen to both me and my sister at the same time. How could he allow this to happen to our mother, who had to deal with both her oldest and youngest daughters having cancer? But then I remembered what my father (Baptist Pastor) always said, "things happen for a reason, and never blame God." Sometimes things happen to wake you up so you can get your life in order. So, I guess that was my wake up call, to get my life in order and face it dead on. I then picked up my bible, prayed, and placed all my trust in God, that whatever was to come, he would give me the courage to handle it and not be scared. My sister however, was not so lucky, because she went home to be with the Lord during her last treatment. I know she's in a better place right now with no suffering.
Being a survivor, has taught me over the years to do a lot of research on my own breast cancer prevention. They say knowledge is power! Well, I have taken that knowledge and put my focus on finding ways to stay healthy and to teach others through KUOMagazine. It has been a tough nine years, because I am still dealing with a chronic condition associated with breast cancer called " Lymphedema" in my left arm that has kept me in and out of the hospital for the past six years. It's a chronic condition, which I must deal with for the rest of my life and I have come to terms with it. It has also taught me not to take things for granted and start living life to the fullest. My friends often try to tell me I need to slow down, but I have fun with something I love to do and that's my online Caribbean magazine I created called "Karibbean Under One." It allows me to learn about my Caribbean culture, meet various people, attend cultural events, learn about other cultures and especially meet other women whom have had breast cancer. We have shared tears, cried and support each other in sharing our story. I have a wonderful team of Editor's, Multi-Media/Graphic Designers, and an amazing team of contributing writers from the Caribbean that make the magazine come to life. I have my good and bad days, but I don't let that stop me from living. I've learned that life is too short to worry about things you can't control and only try to fix what you can. What I can't handle today, I pray for guidance to finish tomorrow. When I look back over the past nine years, I think, that if it weren't for my kids, my mother, family and friends, I would not have the courage to be here today. God has blessed me with a wonderful team of doctors over the years and I am looking forward to celebrating many more years that I pray he will grant me. To all the beautiful women out there that are struggling, or their friends, and family members that have faced or are facing Breast Cancer, please support them and love them, because they are going to need every bit of it.
Finally, take control of your life, have faith, educate yourself, eat right, exercise, get your annual checkups, laugh often and surround yourself with positive people, and live life as if it's your last, because tomorrow is not promise. I can't thank God enough for all the blessings he has given me and for placing wonderful people in my life. This year KUOMagazine and I will be supporting the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and participating in the Komen Race for Cure on Sunday, October 17th, please visit their website at www.komencentralflorida.org for more information and to get involved. Komen for the Cure is ranked second on the 2010 list of the nation's most trusted charities. Also, check out my website at: www.kuomagazine.com and click on the health tab on (Health Prevention) to see more on my condition about Breast Cancer and Lymphedema with Cellulitis as I share educational tips and our upcoming events to help raise funds in finding a cure to save women and men worldwide facing this disease.