Four words that every woman fears hearing after a medical check-up: you have breast cancer. But many fight through one storm after another to finally be free from the restraints of the binding and life-threatening illness. Ruth Powell is one such survivor, and, with the assistance of Jamaica Cancer Society, she was treated to a beauty makeover by The Gleaner Company (Media) Limited and generous sponsors.
At her first stop, Golden Closet, owner Sophia Daley presented her with her very own breast form. Accompanying the gift was a guide on wearing and caring for the form that can last for years. This was welcomed by the 58-year-old, who did a mastectomy in December 2011.
In a sit-down interview with Flair, Powell recalled the day that life as she knew it changed forever. One Sunday in 2010, she found a lump in her breast. In disbelief, she confided in a church member who advised her to go to the clinic that Monday.
The doctor at the clinic referred her to do a mammogram at the Kingston Public Hospital. The hospital ran a few tests, sending some of the tissue to the lab. When the result arrived, Powell was devastated. The first order of business was treatment and, since her breast cancer was malignant, the doctor suggested that she explore the option of surgery.
She was hesitant to explore this approach, but was assured that it was the best course of treatment for her. With no appetite and sleepless nights, she worried about the decision, but went ahead with the procedure. Fortunately, she didn’t have to undergo chemotherapy. “I was happy that I didn’t have to do any radiation or chemotherapy because that’s the rough part,” she added.
Since then, life hasn’t been easy, she highlighted. She lives in constant pain and, although she receives jobs here and there, there’s nothing concrete in the employment department, “I have a lot of pain inside. It’s not easy. There is a lot going on. I now have asthma, high blood pressure and sugar. Sometimes I cry, and I stress a lot, but I see many people pass away and, by the grace of God, I am still here. So, thank you, Jesus,” she said in reflection and optimism.
She is grateful for the support from her church and was excited to be chosen for the makeover. “It feels good,” she repeated, beaming at the thought of the entire process. Attentive in the presentation, she thoroughly enjoyed fitting the breast form and went on to get pampered with a manicure, pedicure, a new hairdo and regal makeup look at Urban Chic in Portmore, St Catherine. The Beauty Spot in Kingston also gave Powell a wonderful package.
She advises women to go to the doctor and “screen yourselves”. “It is not a nice sickness. It is very dangerous to your body, and it makes you worry and stress. So, if you can be tested, go and do it. Don’t stay at home with it because there’s nothing you can do about it if it’s too late.”
As for overcoming her own breast cancer battle, Powell says nothing beats prayer. She lives by the scripture, “I shall not die, but live.”