“Some of the effects of cancer—I lost my hair and my eyebrows,” said Averl Anderson, a breast cancer survivor. Her fingernails were stained from chemotherapy, but today, Averl chooses to smile and look at the bright side of cancer.
In January 2009, she was diagnosed with stage-three breast cancer. “It was challenging, it was different, but it wasn’t a death sentence,” said Averl. She admits her challenges with breast cancer could have been prevented. Averl says she ignored a doctor’s warning about calcium deposits that showed up in her mammogram six years ago. At the time, she was in her late 40s, but because she felt fine and looked in the picture of health, she did nothing about it. “I was supposed to go to the doctor every six months, but because nothing hurt, I never did.”
In 2008, Averl began volunteering with Roswell Park’s Buffalo/Niagara Witness Project, a breast cancer prevention program that targets African American women. She credits this with saving her own life. “I thank God for the Witness Project. If it wasn’t for them, I would have never gotten another mammogram that told me just how much trouble I was in,” explained Averl.
“African American women are often at higher risks of having a particularly more aggressive type of breast cancer,” Averl stressed. “Programs like the Witness Program will see a woman through the diagnosis, through the treatment and support afterwards…the whole process.”
“Now I know…and now YOU know too!”