My Story by Constance Charles
“When someone has cancer, it’s not a death sentence.
It’s actually a new beginning.”
More than 10 years ago, after a self-examination in which I found a cluster of lumps around my right breast, I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with breast cancer. My initial reaction when I found out I had cancer was total surprise. I didn’t have any history of breast cancer in my family.
“ When In doubt…Check it out!!”
I remember being afraid to tell my daughter, Briahna, who was 15 at the time. It was just the two of us. Facing cancer is challenging enough, but I was about to face the journey as a single mom. We didn’t even have another family member in Texas.
When I told Briahna, she asked, “Are you going to die, Mom?”
Perhaps a blessing in disguise, I was diagnosed in October. Because it was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I was able to gather a lot of materials and information and read them with my daughter. We were able to read stories about survivors, which gave us hope and helped reassure my daughter that I would be okay.
I always tell single parents, or anyone facing cancer, that the three things that helped me through were faith, family and friends. I’m very active in many organizations – especially those in the cancer community. I participate in a group called Sharon’s Angels and we walk yearly in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure honoring a friend who is no longer with us. I’ve also participated in the Sisters Network Stop the Silence Walk and currently enjoy supporting other MD Anderson employees and members of my church dealing with a cancer diagnoses.
Participating in these activities is important because they enable you to surround yourself with people who are facing, or have faced, similar challenges. Echoing survivor, Kristen Caldwell, “You do not win a fight against cancer alone.”
When I first learned about MD Anderson’s collaboration with Jason’s Deli, I knew I wanted to be involved because Jason’s Deli was giving back to cancer research. As an employee at MD Anderson, and also as a survivor receiving care at MD Anderson, I believe I have a unique perspective and outlook to share.
In addition, I have always had a love for Jason’s Deli – especially the chicken salad sandwich. Now, my granddaughter, Samauri, loves going to get the ice cream with her Glam-Ma. I admire their family friendly atmosphere and when I was reading the survivor stories on the Strike Through Cancer page, I realized Jason’s Deli treats their employees like family, which is so critical when facing cancer.
For every water bottle purchased, Jason’s Deli is giving $0.10 back to MD Anderson. This may not seem like a lot to some people, but that $0.10 multiplied many times over across nearly 200 Jason’s Deli locations all over the country is money that can make a real difference for cancer research, especially in the hands of MD Anderson physicians and scientists.
My advice to a single parent going through cancer is to know that this is something that you can beat. Do not isolate yourself, and do not turn down help. Your family and friends want to help. When someone has cancer, it’s not a death sentence. It’s actually a new beginning. It’s not time to give up, it’s time to fight. If you look around, there are a lot of survivors out there and places, like MD Anderson and Jason’s Deli, are doing their part to help end cancer.