Call for annual mammograms, faith in God

A Barbadian-born breast cancer survivor in Brooklyn is urging all women to ensure that they get annual mammograms to check for early signs of the disease.

Ernestine Walkes, 62, a five and a half-year breast cancer survivor, also told a recent National Cancer Survivors Day celebration at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and University Hospital of Brooklyn, that faith in God and prayers would help greatly in the healing process.

“Living cancer free doesn’t imply free of worry, anxiety or the physical stresses that result from breast cancer diagnosis, but we must keep hope alive and look ahead to life after treatment, enjoying life in its beauty,” said the retired collection controller at the former Brooklyn Union Gas, renamed Keyspan Energy.

“Remember, when Simon Peter initially came knocking at our door, we refused to answer,” she added. “I don’t know about you, but I ran. I wasn’t about to give up. I prayed, prayed like nobody’s business.

“I called on God to heal me. Five and a half years, later I’m here to remind others of faith in God,” continued Walkes, who was diagnosed with breast cancer while vacationing in Barbados.

“The support of your friends and family will get you through the challenges of life,” she said. “When life offers you lemons, don’t fret and complain – make lemonade and enjoy it; it’s quite refreshing drink especially on a hot summer day.”

Walkes said there are over 180,000 African American breast cancer survivors “enjoying life in its fullest way beyond their cancer diagnosis.”

Jamaican Karen Wilson, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2004, also urged attendees to place their trust in God.

“You don’t have to worry,” she said. “You just have to pray, and God will do the rest.”

She said she had prayed unceasingly to be healed, disclosing that he has been undergoing chemotherapy since 2007.

“I prayed and prayed and prayed, and asked God to give them (doctors) knowledge to make me better,” Wilson said.

“All you have to do is pray and have faith, and God will do the rest,” she stressed.

Jean Ward, a 16-year African American breast cancer survivor, said she had also asked for divine intervention.

“I get all the blessings from God above,” she said. “Only strength and passion will get you through.”

Latavia Deane, 17, said she has grown spiritually since diagnosed with leukemia six years ago.

“I’m just healing with the grace of God,” she said, disclosing that her parents, other relatives and her church family were very supportive during the 34-day hospitalization.

Hundreds of cancer survivors, who attended the event, not only told their heart-wrenching stories but, among other things, lit an “eternal flame” in memory of loved ones, serenaded each other, and danced to spiritual and popular songs, such as “Electric Slide,” “Lean on Me,” and “I Can See Clearly Now.”