After her annual mammogram at Harris Health Martin Luther King in 2011, Emma saw a change on the tip of her right breast. She assumed it was a bruise caused by the mammogram. A physician at Harris Health Ben Taub Hospital suggested a biopsy. She learned the spot was cancerous just before Thanksgiving.
From the very first moment, Emma felt safe. Staff members explained every procedure. She had four rounds of chemotherapy and was ready for surgery before she discovered a knot under her right arm. A second biopsy revealed cancer in her lymph nodes. Surgical plans changed; her right breast and lymph nodes were removed. She had another round of chemo and radiation. Her bell-ringing ceremony on January 15, 2013, to mark the end of radiation, was a special day.
Emma’s chemo was administered at Ben Taub and at Harris Health Smith Clinic. “The staff was so amazing,” she says. “I was devastated, but they talked with me and encouraged me, ‘You’re doing great, keep the faith.’ They gave me the confidence I needed.
“I thank God every day that these people were put in my life, that I’m alive and can tell my story.”
She’s especially grateful for Pink PEN Priscilla Gorner, a survivor who offers encouragement as a Personal Experience Navigator. “Priscilla took me in from the first day and helped me cope. She was with me every step. She encouraged me to talk with new patients, and that lifted my spirits.”
There is plenty to say to new patients, “Don’t be afraid. The staff at Smith Clinic make you so comfortable, you forget you’re sick.”
Emma thinks she came through her illness because “God isn’t through with me. I have a testimony now. I have to prepare others for dealing with cancer.
“I want to help people understand not to take life for granted. Don’t give up. Have faith, strength, courage, hope and love. Do something productive every day so the day isn’t wasted. Do something nice for people — even if it’s only smiling. You never know how that other person is feeling on the inside.”