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2013 survivor profile: Shardeena Brown

"Self- exams and early detection are the keys to survival. Get your mammogram!" - Shardeena Brown

At the age of 38, a few years earlier than the recommended age to begin mammograms, Shardeena Brown discovered a lump in her left breast while doing a self exam. She figured it was just a benign cyst, but called her doctor and made an appointment.
The lump showed up on her mammogram, and to her surprise, a biopsy confirmed that it was cancer.
"My first thought was my kids," says Shardeena, the mother of three. "I sat in my car in the parking lot crying for a half hour before I was able to pick up the phone and call my family."
Shardeena's treatment involved a lumpectomy, along with radiation and chemotherapy. "My mother and fiancé, along with other friends, helped me get through it," she says.
One of the hardest things of all was losing her hair, a side effect of the treatments. "When I first heard I'd need chemo, I was very upset at the thought of being bald," she explains. "When my hair first started falling out, I was depressed for a week. "
Shardeena didn't let it get her down for long. "I realized it was just what I had to do to get better, and that it would not be forever," she says. "I picked myself up, bought some nice scarves and got out of my funk."
Today, Shardeena's hair is growing back and she feels terrific. "I encourage anyone who is going through this to talk about it," she advises. "It's not something to be ashamed of. It's a treatable disease--not a death sentence. Stay positive!"

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