As you may know I am a story-teller. I live to highlight other’s accomplishments and just celebrate wins! I am doing a new feature called Fearless Friday; these posts will focus on women who have overcome some sort of barrier and challenge-or those who may still be fighting through but are inspiring others along the way. Today’s highlight is Mrs. Ruby Thomas, a mutual friend (thanks Cornelia!) sent me her blog and I just had to know more about her. So many times, we downplay what we have going on when we really need to elevate the process.
Ruby is on a fight of and for her life and she knows that there is power in her testimony. She was recently diagnosed with triple negative inflammatory breast cancer and is chronicling her journey on her blog
She is more than her diagnosis… she is a fighter.
We can’t be everything to everyone. It is okay to say I cannot do that, I don’t have time. It is okay to limit’s people’s access to you.
What was life like before the diagnosis?
Before the diagnosis, I was your typical working mom. I went to work, came home got dinner ready, prepared bottles, went over homework…yadda yadda. I tried to fit everything into my schedule. Honestly, I tried to be everything to a lot of people. I knew that my husband expected dinner and a clean house, my kids needed their food prepped, homework checked and rides to practices. I focused on a lot of people, and sometimes (most times) would put myself on the back burner. I dismissed a lot of things that I should have paid attention to. I also pride myself on having everything together—work, home, etc. I did for the most part have things together, but I needed to slow down.
What keeps you positive when you’re experiencing some of the negative effects of chemo? explain chemo brain.
So I read my Bible a lot. I have started using the Devotionals feature in the Youversion Bible app. They can be sorted by topic—healing, faith, etc. I also take it slow. My husband is really good about asking me how I’m feeling and letting me rest. He makes sure that he isn’t all over me all the time. You are tired a lot after chemo. Very tired. Some of the side effects I’ve experienced—tiredness, nausea, loss of appetite, constipation, changes in skin and palm color, hair loss, dehydration.
The most traumatic for me probably was the hair loss. I was wearing wigs previously, so it wasn’t like I would see my hair everyday. Before I started the chemo, I went and got my hair done—cut, relaxed, curled. I wanted my last experience with my hair to be cute. I wore my hair for about two weeks. Then I noticed, it started coming out in clumps. My husband and I made the decision to just buzz it in our bathroom. My husband cuts my boys hair in between barbershop appointments. I knew that he would be patient with me. When I saw the first ball of hair hit the floor, it was traumatic. I cried. It took me a while to get used to having no hair.
Another trying side effect is “chemo brain.” Chemo brain is when you forget things or it takes longer to process. It starts small—what was I doing, what is GDP, etc. I am a history teacher, and I’ve always been “the smart girl.” Me not being as quick on my feet, or having to admit to my students that I cannot remember sometimes is hard. I have sticky notes and reminders everywhere now. Organization helps– planned everything to a tee before, that skill helps compensate now. It is already written down somewhere. Technology also helps. My husband and I have a shared password Google Doc, We share our calendars with each other on our phones—I need you to get the kids this day, etc.
Overall, I remain positive in the fact that cancer can’t win. I’ve developed a network of woman who are going through or have experienced the same thing. We keep each other positive.
You’re a teacher, what drew you to that profession and are you using any of those skills to keep yourself focused on your desired outcome.
I have always wanted to be a teacher. My aunt, who raised me, was a teacher for over 20 years. One of my biggest motivators and role models growing up was a teacher, Ms. Brenda Shuford (choir teacher at Crump, Cloverdale, and Lee). I saw teachers as being so important. I also wanted to give black girls someone to look up to. I wanted to show them we were more than our bodies. One can be smart and everything else. Growing up, I wasn’t the pretty girl, the popular girl—I was the nerd. There are plenty of black girls that don’t see anyone that looks like them their entire educational path, I wanted to be that representative.
I think teaching makes you a planner. Being a planner helps you get through all the stuff that is involved with cancer. I also think teaching helps you be a silver liner. You have to remain positive—find the bright side.
What made you start your blog? Talk a but about the name and how often do you plan to post?
I started the blog as a means to not trap my feelings. I figured many people were going through my same issues. I wanted to also let people know that cancer can affect anyone. Mammograms aren’t advised until you are over 40. I’m 32. My friend has breast cancer as well, she’s 33. I wanted women to know that our experiences are not the exception. We need to speak up for ourselves. I let doctors cancel biopsies. I didn’t speak up about needing a mammogram sooner. I also wanted to convey the importance of lifestyle (diet) changes. I wanted to give anyone with this disease hope.
The blog is titled I Will Be a Survivor because I’m determined to be a survivor. I cast out cancer daily. I pray; I meditate, and let God know that cancer will not take my life. The tongue is a powerful tool—you shall have whatever you say. So daily, I’m letting cancer know it will not win. I intended to post biweekly. My treatments are biweekly, and I wanted to blog through the process. I pray about the topics as well. I want the blog to be real, but also motivational!
Any advice you would like to give?
I need women, black women especially, to know the importance of speaking up! We know our bodies. We cannot continue to let doctors dismiss us. Often times, we just accept what is given to us—You have this, take this and be gone. However, what if you know that it’s something more. We have got to start telling our doctors what we truly need. If I had insisted on a biopsy when they cancelled, I could have caught the cancer almost a month sooner. I was diagnosed at stage 3. I have a very rare form of breast cancer—inflammatory cancer. That month and a half could have been the difference between life and death.
I also want women to take time for ourselves. We can’t be everything to everyone. It is okay to say I cannot do that, I don’t have time. It is okay to limit’s people’s access to you.
Anything that your reading or listening to right now?
Right now I am busy planning a Black History program for my school. So, my playlist alters from Lift Every Voice and Sing to Beyoncé to African beats. I do listen to TD Jakes podcast weekly and Joel Osteen podcast weekly as well. I also get my dose of sophist ratchet when a Funky Dineva notification comes through on YouTube.