Dorothy Phillip is the founder of Faces of Cancer St. Lucia and a breast cancer survivor. Dorothy, a Facility Manager, was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2008, almost three years after relocating to St. Lucia from New York. She was 45 years old. Today Dorothy shares her story and message to women.
When were you diagnosed and at what age?
I was diagnosed in 2008 at the age of 45.
What stage were you diagnosed with?
Because of the way my treatment was done the true stage of my cancer was not determined but through experience the oncologist said it was somewhere around a stage three.
How the cancer was initially detected? (i.e. through a BSE, a CBE or an annual mammogram)
The cancer was initially detected by the observance of a tiny mosquito looking lump, by me.
How did you feel when you first received the news?
Numb but eager to get rid of it with questions like “ok, now what can we do and when can we start?”
Is there a family history of breast cancer?
No history of breast cancer to my knowledge.
Did you have a support network?
I did have a family and friends support network as I was very open about my diagnosis and treatment from day one.
Tell me about your treatment process.
Before I started treatment a series of scans were done to determine a base line, after which a port was inserted over my left breast to perform bloodwork and administer chemotherapy intravenously. Then, I started chemotherapy. After six months of chemotherapy, I had a mastectomy and started reconstruction, which was followed by more chemotherapy, then radiation. After this, the reconstruction was completed.
Were there any programmes or services offered to you that would help with the treatment process?
My treatment was done in Georgia and there were numerous of free programs and services but I did not take advantage of any.
Did you face any obstacles during your treatment process?
I was faced with many obstacles and failures along the way which meant I ended up with numerous surgeries and other illnesses. So much so, my oncologist once told me everything that can possibly go wrong has gone wrong with me. On hearing this I knew that cancer was not happening to me but for me and I had to turn it around into something positive to benefit others, and that’s when the thought of creating Faces of Cancer St. Lucia came to mind. Through it all I always said, “I am ready, what do we do now, and when can we start”.
What message would you like to provide women in the community?
I would like to emphasize that early detection can saves lives. Please get screened yearly, do your BSE every month and follow up at least once a year with a CBE. If there is reason for concern follow up with your doctor right away, please do not self-diagnose or wait to see if things will get better. And please breast cancer is not always a lump any abnormality in the breast is cause for concern and you should have it checked out by a doctor, be aware that there can be false negatives and false positives so a second opinion is always a good practice.