Sherry-Ann is sitting cancer free
IT’S NOT UNUSUAL to see Sherry-Ann Carrington smiling. She always has a positive word or inspiring message, even for strangers.
She told EASY magazine that after overcoming one of the toughest challenges in her life she vowed to be a better person, to complain less and be more thankful.
She is a breast cancer survivor and viewed her diagnosis four years ago not as a death sentence but a chance to really live. Every October Sherry-Ann and some of her friends participate proudly in the Barbados Cancer Society’s Walk/run for the Cure, as a means to helping other women through the disease.
“A lot more people are aware of breast cancer and if you talk to them they know someone or it’s someone close to them who has been affected, so they know the true cause. It is uplifting to see that other people are more aware and are coming out and giving survivors and those going through it support. It means a lot,” she said, smiling.
On March 7, 2012 – a date she won’t easily forget – the results of her biopsy confirmed she had breast cancer.
“I found the lump one morning in the bath,” she said.
“A couple years ago I had warnings but nothing was there. I got the biopsy but it was nothing so I told myself at first it was probably nothing. It was around Christmastime and with all the long hours I work, I said I would leave it until after and get it checked.
“I went to the doctor at the beginning of January that year and he sent me for an ultrasound. A couple weeks had passed and it was nagging me and I said that I’d better go get it done. I did, and the same evening the technician asked when I had to go back to the doctor. I told him as soon as I get the results and he said, ‘I think you should take them today’.
“From the time I heard that I was telling myself this can’t be good. All these thoughts were running through my mind and I kept thinking this could not be good,” she recalled.
Another set of exams ordered by her doctor confirmed the initial findings.
She agonised over telling her close-knit family the grim news. She thought about how her daughter Sherese, two nieces Danielle and Deandra and her mother would handle the news given that Sherry-Ann’s sister Yolanda had succumbed to breast cancer in 2005.
Sherry-Ann was 32, the same age as Yolanda.
“I kept telling myself that God is not going to put more on you than you can bear. You have to fight this thing, don’t let it fight you and my fight just kicked in from there,” she said.
She recalls asking the doctor what the next step was and he kept asking her if she was sure she was okay. Her answer was “Yes. I’m good.”
Sherry-Ann opted to have a mastectomy instead of having the lump removed. She described the eight rounds of chemotherapy treatment as “rough”, especially the first four. She also said the very first treatment or what is referred to as the “red devil” was harsh.
Recovery was not easy and through each round her family’s support was unwavering.
Sherry-Ann has no problem sharing her story and believes that by doing so her experiences can help others.
“When I meet someone who has just been diagnosed I tell them there’s life after breast cancer. When some people hear breast cancer they think it’s a death sentence. I remember when I first got diagnosed I had a couple negative remarks and I felt negative knowing that I had just lost my sister.
“Then I thought ‘I have to pull through this, I have the children’. Going to the group you always hear positive thinking. To see someone who beat it is shows you that you can beat it too. If I can share my knowledge and tell them what to expect even though everyone’s experience is different, then it wouldn’t be a shock.”
She said that being a member of The Little Pink Gift Foundation’s Bosom Pals has helped her tremendously.
“Bosom Pals is a group for breast cancer survivors. We meet the third Saturday of every month and every time we go there is always two or three new ladies either who have been just diagnosed, went through it, heard about it or some who are actually in treatment. It grows every month . . . getting bigger and bigger.
“They give you lots of support . . . . I got so much support from them. I remember that after my operation I joined the group and before I started treatment I was assigned a Bosom Pal who is a darling. She helped me through the process. It is encouraging because you go and you see other people going through it no matter if they are old or young, rich, poor, white, black. You know you are not going through this fight alone. Other people have been through it and they have survived and that gives you the encouragement to fight, to go on.
“The support is always there. If you have a problem you can call any time, day and night and have someone to talk to. If you’re feeling down you can call. If you are experiencing something that you find weird or unusual they are there to help you walk through it because they have been there before. It is good to have someone who has been through it and not someone to just say ‘hang in there’,” she said.
How does she remain positive?
“A lot of that comes from God. You have to find that inner strength and going through this struggle you realise you’re a lot stronger than you thought you were before. You cannot walk this journey and come out the same way. There’s a difference in thinking, a different outlook on life. A lot has changed for me, you could be good one minute and then something happens the next.
“In my wildest dreams I would not have thought I would be going through it. I do have my struggles but I try to have a different outlook on things. I try not to let things worry me because when you worry the problem is still there. I do get comments when I tell people what I’ve been through. They look at me and say ‘really?’ Once I asked someone if they wanted to see the scar . . . . It’s not the end of the world . . . life goes on.
“If I didn’t have this positive attitude I wouldn’t have made it. Your body is different and you have to try to get accustomed to it. You tend to think you’re less than a woman, but don’t,” she said with a broad smile. (GBM)