"I thank CBF for being in the community for women who have come to this road on their journey of breast cancer, and allowing us to navigate this diagnosis at the various crossroads."
Chautauqua "Tee" was born in Kentucky, raised in South Carolina and graduated from Morris College. She is a mother, educator of 24 years, entrepreneur, doula, community activist and now, breast cancer Survivor.
During a routine self-breast exam she found a lump in her left breast. Knowing her family's history a father who is a three-time colon and prostate cancer survivor and nine aunts who had been diagnosed with breast cancer she couldn't help but wonder if she would be the 10th female in her family to receive the same fate. A diagnostic mammogram confirmed Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Even though Tee expected those results, that didn't stop the trainwreck of emotions that came from hearing her diagnosis.
"For a few days after my results came back I tried to keep my mind programmed as if nothing was there, but that didn't work," Tee remembers. "I cried. I came home and tore up a whole lot of things. I was really afraid, and I did not want to be a statistic of another black woman dying of breast cancer. I asked my doctor if I was I going to die. I don't even know if they really answered me but I do know they said that they would take care of me and that we would get this under control and cured."
A nurse navigator told Tee about Carolina Breast Friends.
"The staff of CBF has been amazing. From allowing me to come in and have my ugly crying moments to offering words of encouragement that uplift. [My mentor] has truly been a jewel. While this journey is often times a long process, and most definitely a life-changer, I am NOT ALONE."
Not only did Tee find the community she needed for support at CBF, but she empowered herself through her own education of breast cancer and making diet changes.
"Having breast cancer has altered my life drastically. I have now become a plant-based eater which has been an adjustment." Tee goes on, "From treatments to side effects to just overall self-thoughts, researching, and as a black woman reading books to try to understand why our rates of mortality are so much higher."
While Tee has been experiencing her own personal challenges with her diagnosis, she hasn't lost her passion for giving back to her community. She's frequently at The Pink House in a volunteer capacity offering her time in support of others who turn to CBF.