Hilarious, entertaining, seriously outspoken – all describe the personality of one artiste Entertainment Weekly says is one of the top 25 funniest people in the world. Although Wanda Sykes has been making us laugh for years, often with a jolting ray of humor, there is nothing comical about her recent announcement of having breast cancer and her valiant decision to have a bilateral mastectomy.
Wanda Sykes is a writer, activist, actress, voice artist, stand-up comedian, and mother; she’s also now a breast cancer survivor. In February 2011, she was diagnosed with DCIS or [ductal carcinoma in situ] in only one breast and after undergoing a cosmetic procedure to have a breast reduction. To some, DCIS is considered to be stage-zero cancer, but to many others, DCIS is not “pre-cancerous” – it is cancer. It is a non-invasive cancer that has the potential to spread through ducts and lobules and other parts of the anatomy over time.
Persevering with perception, she decided to have both breasts removed to reduce the risks of any cancer returning. Wanda is aware that a bilateral mastectomy may not necessarily evade all of her chances of ever redeveloping cancer however she based her sole decision on research, intelligence, and sound conviction.
Wanda Sykes optimism [and outlook] reminds me a great deal of a dear friend – gone but never forgotten, Dyan Adams [January 9, 2007]. A respected DC make up artist, esthetician, mother, and friend to all who knew her, Dyan was a steadfast breast cancer advocate. She was both a hero and a messenger. Prior to and through her diagnosis and advocacy, she discovered her passion and her purpose – to help save those who could not save themselves and to spread the communication about the importance of early detection. I never recall her being reluctant to share her story, her faith, her home, and even the blemishes from her mastectomy with family, friends, and strangers alike. A sister friend indeed, she taught me the value and obligation of taking time to enjoy life’s little pleasures and on a daily basis – whether we are battling a deadly disease or basking in the limelight.
I often think of how I would feel – or what I would do – if ever discovering the development of such a harsh reality. I imagine the initial shock would knock me to my knees – perhaps; but my sound faith and courageous conviction would likely sanction me to proceed proactively with positivity. It was through Dyans’ “due diligence” and educating me on the awareness of breast cancer that called my keen attention to the cause, and not mysteriously since then, have I fanatically fallen in love with the color pink!
Aside chemotherapy and radiation therapy, a mastectomy is a very difficult decision for any ONE woman to make, but ONE in every eight women will someday have to. Every year, about one in eight women (12%) in the world will develop and be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. In 2010 an estimated 39,840 women were expected to die from breast cancer; this year, the estimation is 39,520 – a decrease of 320. In 2010, 54,010 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer [DCIS] were expected to arise; this year, 57,650 new cases are expected to arise – an increase of 3,640. No doubt, increased awareness, early detection through screening, and advocacy is much needed.
Every October of every year is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month or NBCAM. Organizations such as Race for the Cure, United Cancer Foundation, and the American Cancer Society continue their commitment, advocacy, and research to finding a cure in the battle against the second leading cause of death in women around the world. From runway models in cashmere fashion shows in Toronto, Canada to players in pink apparel on football fields across the United States, the meaning and message of breast cancer awareness continues to proliferate. Today there are more than 2.6 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.
Wanda Sykes continues to light up stages across America with her unparalleled sense of style, but she takes her breast cancer journey very seriously. Wanda Sykes is “At Large” amongst the millions of women across the globe fighting, thriving, and surviving – breast cancer. Like her and many others in the face of opposition, we should take courage. As songstress India Arie gracefully sings, Strength, Courage, and Wisdom, is inside of us ALL.
Reference commentary of October19, 2010: The Power of Pink: a race and space for healing
Love and Light for your Tuesday.