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Black Women’s Health with Felecia Tucker

Welcome to my segment of Black Women’s Health with this month’s feature Felecia Tucker. She sits down to share her own testimony story that lead to an amazing win for her taking charge of her health. Felecia’s long battle with her health found her doing research looking for a resolution that will help not just her but many women around the world. Let me introduce to you a woman of strength, courage, and dedication. Meet my good friend since middle school Felecia Tucker an author of children’s books, an educator, and founder of Refresh a product that is hear to change women’s lives.

During my Q&A with Felecia Tucker, she is openly honest about her health issues and how she found resolution that would take her out of her comfort zone. God blesses those with vision for a reason and she did not obey the voice.

  1. What underlying health issue did/do you struggle with that you can share with other women? For about three years I dealt with excessive bleeding, first starting heavy in the first year and increasing as time went on. The doctors said I did not have a tumor or cyst or anything that would cause the bleeding. We tried everything including an ablation and in the end the bleeding would start again and oftentimes worse than before.
  2. What were the challenges or obstacles that you faced? One of the challenges I faced was needing to clean my vaginal area several times a day. This caused swelling, sensitivity, and sometimes it just hurt. I had to be mindful of fragrances and soaps because anything that caused my PH to be unbalanced caused a yeast or bacterial infection and sometimes vaginitis, this was on top of the excessive bleeding. It was an ongoing cycle that impacted my quality of life.
  3. Do you feel like doctors overlooked or didn’t understand your health concerns? It is always a concern whether or not a doctor is diagnosing correctly. When I started seeing my doctor in College Park she was amazing because she actually helped me.
  4. What did you do to take control of your health that you can share? I became very intentional about researching my condition. At first I really didn’t know how serious it was until I almost passed out and had to have the first of three blood transfusions.
  5. Were there any changes in diet or holistic approach that you took that you are willing to share? Even before this season of my life I was always mindful of my diet. I didn’t change much. I try to eat healthy and can’t think of anything that would have impacted this experience.
  6. How did you beat your health diagnosis or how did you resolve it? I actually had a partial hysterectomy. The doctors could not figure out why I kept bleeding and I was tired of being weak and sick. So I decided to do it and I am so glad I did.
  7. What are you doing differently today to stay healthy? I am very conscious of my diet and my weight. I try to stay on track as much as I can, by eating mainly fish. I hardly ever eat beef and never pork. I just started weightlifting and of course I continue to exercise. I have a therapist for my mental health, something I highly recommend.
  8. What advice would you give another Black woman who is going through what you have already experienced? Everyone is different and just understanding your body. Being honest with your doctor and your partner will help you make decisions that are best for you. Without my husband being involved I don’t know if I would have made the decisions that I did because I was so sick, he was a blessing through it all.
  9. Tell us about the product you created because of your health issue that would benefit all women? When the bleeding was so excessive and I was constantly cleaning and washing my vaginal area I started searching for an alternative to the big cotton towels. I searched and tried different fabrics. I finally tried bamboo and fell in love. I created the Refresh Towel. A small round gentle towel that feels awesome every time I use it. Not only is it gentle but it is antibacterial. This is important because it helps keep the vaginal PH balanced. Keeping the towels that you use on your face and body separate from the towels you use for your vaginal area just makes sense. I wanted to share my little towel with all women. It is so worth the investment to care for this very delicate area. My website is Refreshu.us and I can be found on social media by searching #refreshubrand or @refreshubrand I would love it if you all liked my pages and follow me.

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When you accept your obstacles

When you conquer your obstacles of Breast Cancer the Warrior in you rises so you will become unstoppable and defeat such a horrific disease. One of the biggest struggles among Black Women who opt to go through chemotherapy that is loosing their hair. We as Black women truly love our hair and the struggle is beyond accepting at times. My first time going through chemotherapy was EXTREMELY harsh and going in blind was an understatement. I wished there were more women like me to help me along the journey. However, there were not a lot of women who looked like me to give me pointers or suggestions on what to do in preparation for the effects of chemo drugs. I would learn it the hard way and it was traumatizing mentally and physically.

In September 2019, I was ashamed of how my hair came out during chemotherapy. It was very devastating to me to go through my hair turning to literally wool and sliding off my head after only one chemo treatment. The women from support group and doctor both said, “Your hair will start to thin and then fall out after the second to third treatment from the same drugs they all had been given. I was totally embarrassed the first time around it made me feel very ugly and isolated. I refused to be seen inside our outside of my home without the scarf or hat. I would not even allow family or friends to see my bald head. It took time for me to get to a place where I was comfortable with the effects of chemotherapy and my outer appearance.

There is no right or wrong way to accept your obstacles. I finally adjusted and realized what I am going through is temporary and it is just hair that will eventually grow back. The one thing I had to accept was that I could not depend on what other women who did not look like me to understand what I was going through. I did reach out to a Black doctor who specialized in dermatology care for women like me going through chemo. She helped me understand what I needed to do to care for my skin, my head, and my body. Your body becomes extremely sensitive to lotions, soaps, facial care, and hair care products.

It would be my second treatment in September of 2020, that would not be embarrassed or feel ashamed about my appearance. It is okay for you to take your time, you don’t need to impressed anyone, or get anyone’s approval on your outlook. This picture is from my second diagnosis with Breast Cancer.

I do recommend that before you undergo chemo to cut your hair down short to avoid the traumatic experience that I went through. The time that you prepare yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally will help you in the long run. I learned a lot from 2019 to 2021 and I am sharing my story as a testimony to help other Black women.

These are products referred to me to use that were very helpful while going through Chemotherapy and Radiation. You must keep your skin moisturize.

  1. Facial cleansers recommended are CerVee Hydrating cleanser, and hydrating moisturizers.
  2. Cetaphil facial cleanser and moisturizing lotion for body and face.
  3. Aveeno Lotions and body wash
  4. Dove for sensitive skin body wash
  5. Shea Butter was a Big help used on my entire body including my head.
  6. Dickerson Witch Hazel facial toner

Articles that I read and researched that you might find helpful

Black Doctor.org https://blackdoctor.org/hair-care-chemotherapy__trashed/ This article is good read as it gives recommendations on how to prepare, how to pamper your hair, scalp during treatments, and what vitamins you should make sure you are taking. That is another blog that I will share this week regarding supplements to take during your treatment that you will benefit from decreased side effects.

Healthlinehttps://www.healthline.com/health/cancer/effects-on-body

Did you find this blog post helpful?

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How does Cancer Diagnosis affects your spirit?

How does hearing you have Breast Cancer affect your spiritual health? From my own personal experience, when I was given my first news in July of 2019 it felt like a punch in my spirit. I was trying to cope and be strong for my daughter who was my biggest concern than being worried about myself. I was worried this disease was going to take me away from my daughter and loved ones. We had been praying hard over the days that led to the results of my biopsy. I questioned my faith, belief, God’s love, and prayers.

How does it affect your spirit?

Cancer can have a huge impact on your spiritual health because it triggers a level of stress that is dangerous for you. Your entire body is in a state of shock when you are told that “I am sorry you have Breast Cancer.” At the exact time in moment, the world is in a time capsule that you are trying to find the remote control to rewind what the doctor just said. You cannot believe what was just said to you and your spiritual beliefs you had since you were 23 years old has left the room.

I honestly sat there questioning my spiritual relationship with God. I anxiety that raced through my body a rage of fear, doubt, and uncertainty. I begin to question my purpose. My entire mind, body, spirit, and emotions were in shambles. I felt broken in all areas that were apart of my humanity. I became very frustrated with God and even angry at times with the biggest question that I kept asking in my prayers were “Why me”, What did I do to deserve this?” I even went as far with the question to God and asked What did I do wrong to be punished with a life threatening disease? I tried meditating to calm down search for the comfort of his voice, but I could not find it at the moment.

Photo by Matheus Natan on Pexels.com

How did I fight through my spiritual journey?

To be honest, it was a hard. I had to go through a process ,but I was not alone. I had some amazing women who were supportive, praying women I called my tribe, my daughter unconditional love, and lots of talking to God. I did have to let go of the anger that came with being diagnosed. I had stopped talking to God because I was mad as hell at him so I did have some screaming and yelling matches in my quiet place with him, The truth is, you have to keep talking to him whether you did what I did which was yelling, crying, praying, or journaling what I was feeling and why. I found comforting listening to some of my favorite pastors or even watching them on YouTube. Each time I can tell you it was the Holy Spirit that guided me to a particular man or woman of God. The word they were preaching that particular day always resonated with me and I never not once said that was a coincidence. I told myself, “no, that was a Devine intervention from the Holy Spirit.” I remember when that small voice whispered to me that I will get through this storm, at first I doubted that voice. But I did get through it the first time and the second time.

I had to put my faith and trust back in God. I had to surround myself with positive energy that included people. I removed negative people from my presence because my spirit was vulnerable. I started keeping a prayer journal and a thought journal. I reached out to my prayer warriors who prayed with me and over me. You cannot do this alone. Furthermore, my daughter and I had to rebuild our trust, faith, and love for God’s healing that would get us both through this journey. My spirit is on a healing path after two years which makes me happy. I can give my testimony to other cancer patients. It took me over a year to let go of the anger and the unforgiveness that was in my heart toward many who didn’t give me cancer, but diagnosed me with Breast Cancer.

Dont’ let Cancer beat your spirit man down. Accept the things you cannot change but embrace the things God-The Holy Spirit can change. You will get through this. Are you feeling broken spiritually? Visit Cancer Council for support and read the articles that will give you reassurance on this emotional journey.

Resourceful Links

Cancer Council www.cancer.net/coping-with-cancer/physical-emotional-a…

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How does the diagnosis of Cancer affects your Mental Health?

This is the big question that many strangers, family members, and friends need to understand and practice empathy. What do I mean by this? Empathy is defined as the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing within their frame of reference. This week in 3 part blog posts, I will talk about how a diagnosis of cancer affects your mental health, spiritual health, and finally physical health. Let’s start with mental health.

How does the diagnosis of any type of cancer affects your mental state of mind? When you are first told that you have Breast Cancer, you do not process the diagnosis right away because you are in shock. You are in disbelief and you want the doctor to repeat themselves. You are given this book to read about your type, various stages, type of surgery, and a list of all the chemotherapy drugs with their side affects whether you are taking chemo pills or IV chemotherapy. The book goes over the radiation process and after treatment care. You are hit with a wealth of information that mentally you have not processed or even accepted. It’s a process that you can take your time to deal with at your own pace. You find yourself on this emotionally roller-coaster because you don’t know how to feel let alone whether to cry or scream.

Meanwhile, family, friends, and caregivers will have to learn how to care for you, support you, practice empathy, understanding, give you space, and time to adjust. Let’s dive into part 1 of this week’s topics Mental, Spiritual, and Physical Health using my experience as examples and some of my favorite articles that help me as well as facts from the Cancer Organization to help you help a love one or a perfect stranger.

Photo by Klaus Nielsen on Pexels.com

Mental and Emotional Health

When I was first diagnosed it was traumatizing. I experienced grief and a few stages of depression. I was angry and my peace was invaded with cancer. I know doctors and nurses say it’s okay to be angry, mad, and sad because our mental psyche has to process the diagnosis.

I found myself isolating from friends and family during the first diagnosis in July 2019. I sworn family to secrecy because I was embarrassed that I was diagnosed with this ugly, life threatening disease. This was a hard hit to my mental and emotional state of mind. This was the biggest heartbreak that I every experienced. It was one of the biggest blows any woman could every face. There is no cure for cancer yet which is still mind blowing to me right till this day. You tugged at the idea of whether or not your will be clear of cancer after treatment or if you will be on pills for the rest of your life to survive.

I pulled myself off social media, I stopped writing, and I stopped reading books that I was interested in that made me smile, laugh, or inspired me. I went through a spell of feeling completely numb during the first eight weeks. I had not cried and I was fighting the emotions inside that I refused to let out. I could not accept my diagnosis because I kept telling myself they got my biopsy results mixed up with someone else. This cannot be correct.

I started reading everything on my type of breast cancer to the point I was even reading the conspiracy writers when it came to doing chemotherapy. I almost believed them. I started researching holistic approaches to healing my body and what natural herbs could heal and cure me. I was a mad woman furious to find my own truth and cure.

Like I said, my peace of mind had been invaded and did not exist anymore. I did have an emotional breakdown after my first chemotherapy treatment and then a second emotional breakdown at a Breast Cancer event my friend Stephanie took me to where I was one of the honored guests. All of the emotions built up inside of me finally exploded three months later after being diagnosed.

There was so much I did not know about my type of breast cancer and the type of treatment that was being recommended that my first doctor really was not helpful because she was insensitive using a scare tactic to get me to do chemotherapy instead of helping me understand why I had to do chemotherapy and explain all of the variables in my biopsy results. It was not until I went for another opinion at Northwestern Hospital where I got answers to many of my unanswered questions.

How did I deal with the mental and emotional health with my first diagnosis? I talked with a therapist, went to support group, I allowed myself to cried, I forgave myself, and I did journal how I was feeling each day at the request of my therapist to make sure I was not keeping pain and angry wrapped up inside me. I had good days and I had some really bad downright ugly days. But guess what, they went in my journal and not kept bottled up inside my mind.

When I was hit with a new diagnosis seven months post chemo in 2020, it was devastating on top of the fact were were in a global pandemic and on lockdown. I held myself as a warrior who needed new doctors who specialized in this type of thing everyday all day. It was time out for using local hospital that was close to commute back and forth during treatment. It was the best advice my brother Walter could have given me to seek out Cancer Treatment Center of America for a second opinion. I learned so much during the five day of tests, consultation, examination, review, analyze to confirm my diagnosis with a how and why. I will talk more about that experience next week and what I learned.

My advice to any Black woman who has been diagnosed with any type of cancer:

  1. Talk to a therapists
  2. Attend a support group
  3. Find yourself a tribe of women who will have empathy, love, compassion, understanding, and who will support you no matter what.
  4. Don’t be afraid of getting a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th opinion about your diagnosis.
  5. Get a Test to see what your Vitamin D levels are and how this will affect your body – we will talk more about this in future posts.
  6. Explore all resources to cancer patients they are FREE
  7. It’s okay to be mad for a little while, but don’t stay there.
  8. Pray and talk to your higher power for peace.
  9. Do not keep all those emotions inside.
  10. Do not do treatment somewhere because it’s close to home, advocate for the best treatment plan even if it’s at a facility that is hours away.
  11. Get matched with a Imerman Angel or support from Cancer Hope Network to talk with another woman with your same diagnosis.
  12. Go for walks and Self Care.

I had to learn to protect my mental and emotional health by letting the tears fall, talking to my tribe who did understand, attending support group, and taking advantage of the Angel program that the American Cancer Society has that truly is a blessing. What is the Angel program? This program they assign you to a survivor who was diagnosed with the same type of cancer as you, same stage, and same treatment plan. This angel will call and answer all of your questions and some will even meet with you at chemotherapy for support. I will talk about chemotherapy next week. This week I needed to address the impact of having cancer affects the mental, spiritual, and physical body.

Do you know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer? Share this article with them and check out the resource links below that helped me.

Some of my Resourceful links

https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/emotional-mood-changes.html

Love this article https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/nurture-your-emotional-health.html

Living Well Cancer Center https://livingwellcrc.org/

Wellness House in Hinsdale https://wellnesshouse.org/related-resources/

Mentor Angel https://imermanangels.org/

National Coalition for Cancer Care Survivorship https://canceradvocacy.org/resources/cancer-survival-toolbox/

Cancer Hope Network –https://www.cancerhopenetwork.org/get-support/get-matched/with-a-cancer-survivor.html