Cecille White enters seven years without breast cancer

Barbadian Cecile White in the sanctuary at Fenimore Street United Methodist Church in Brooklyn.
Courtesy Cecille White

Cecille White continues to give the Almighty thanks for enabling her to enter seven years without breast cancer.

“This is yet another year that I give God thanks and praise for yet another year on this glorious earth,” Barbadian-born White told Caribbean Life Sunday evening. “This is going into my seventh year that Almighty God has healed my body from breast Cancer.

“I have seen and known of others that have succumbed to this dreaded disease, but, because of His grace and mercy, I am standing,” the Canarsie, Brooklyn resident added. “I thank God every second of every day. I can still remember that day I got my diagnosis.

“To be the recipient of such news, I can tell my story; but, through all of livened events, I strive on,” White continued. “I still continue to live a healthy lifestyle and follow doctors’ orders in maintaining my twice annual mammogram and ultrasound appointments, of which I’m scheduled, ironically on Oct. 24.

“If I can be of any solace or consolation to any one, let me assure you that breast cancer is not a life sentence,” she said. “I am still strong, still working and still enjoying all of the many gifts that life has to offer, while taking the medication that has been prescribed to me, of which I have to take for yet another three years,” she said. “I have put the fear of it returning behind me, for God has given me that inner peace and has equipped me with the strength.”

White said her friends and church family still maintain their presence in her life and encourage here in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

“To all the ladies out there, get your mammograms, along with their ultrasound,” she urged. “Detecting this disease early is of utmost importance. So, do not reluctantly put off doing this.”

White, 64, urged men to do the same.

“This does not apply only to women but to men as well, because men do have breast cancer,” she stressed. “Yes, yes, yes, it’s a crazy world, with all its illnesses and diseases. But I pray that, one day, there will be a cure for this dreaded disease, cancer.

“In spite of it all, I stand tall in giving my Creator all the glory and all the praise for giving me yet another year on this wonderful and glorious earth, living by the mantra that ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,’” White added. “If I can, you can.”

White, who was diagnosed in February 2015 with the “Big C” – cancer,” first told her story to Caribbean Life two years ago.

In quoting Dave Pelzer, an American author, of several autobiographical and self-help books, White initially told Caribbean Life: “You can be a victim of cancer or a survivor of cancer. It’s a mindset.”

With this mindset, she said that she was determined to beat the odds, with the help of family and close friends.

“It was very difficult to process, and even harder to treat,” said White, stating that treatment included 45 “long rounds” of radiation therapy, as well as “many lifestyle adjustments.”

She said it was “a battle” for her, but, with the support of her children, family and friends, she was “continuing on.”

White is an active member of Fenimore Street United Methodist church in Brooklyn, where she serves as a Certified Lay Servant, United Methodist Women member, choir member and all-round “helping hand.”

“To be told you have cancer should not be a death sentence,” she emphasized. “I’ve truly learned to put God first in everything. He has been my nurse, doctor and all-round healer.”

White – currently a rehab assistant at Palm Garden Rehabilitation Center in the Kensington section of Brooklyn, and has been working there since 1986 – said the road to recovery has been eased with the help of close friends, family and church sisters, “some of whom were there for me from the diagnosis to this very moment.”

She identified retired, Trinidadian-born, Registered Nurse Marlene Ferguson, a former nursing administrator at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and University Hospital of Brooklyn, as one of those persons.

“From the day of my diagnosis, she helped me through making all the tough decisions, took me to appointments and was there for me when I woke up from surgery,” said White about Ferguson, who had initiated and coordinated an annual Breast Cancer Survivors’ Day celebration at Downstate Hospital, and who also worships with White at Fenimore Street United Methodist Church.

White said her daughter, Candice, who lives with her, helped prepare meals “to abide by the many dietary changes one has to make when they are diagnosed with cancer.”

In addition, she said her sister Harriet Griffith, as well as retired Jamaican-born Registered Nurses Glenner Strachan and Doreen Thomas – both members of Fenimore Street United Methodist Church and United Methodist women – “have also been a constant source of care and concern.”
A month after diagnosis, White said she had a partial mastectomy on her right breast at Brookdale Medical Center and University Hospital, and continued treatment, through radiation therapy, at Brookdale Medical Center.

Throughout her life and through all her struggles, White stressed that God has been her “main stay.”

Before breast cancer diagnosis, in 2008, she said he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, “followed by a total knee replacement surgery in 2011, which was very brutal.”

“I take one day at a time,” said White, referring to the arthritis. “It’s painful sometimes, especially in the mornings. But I take my medication as prescribed, and, again, I stay positive.”

Regarding left knee surgery, at the then Methodist Hospital, renamed New York Presbyterian Hospital, she said it was “tough, because I had to learn to re-use my own muscles with this artificial component now implanted into my body.”

Her message to others who have been diagnosed with breast cancer: “Be true to yourself; be positive. Put Christ first, and follow a healthy diet and lifestyle.”

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