A Warrior's Heart
By: Dr. Alia Campbell
So here it was one week after my “Fine at 40” birthday, on a Sunday standing in the middle of my son’s room giving his nanny the plans for the next day; and something told me to rub my boobs. Strange right? It was like a voice in my head (may have been lack of sleep but nevertheless) something said feel them. So I did. To my dismay I felt a lump on the right breast. Full disclosure, about a month prior to that I was in the shower and saw my right nipple do something “odd”. I looked up to the ceiling and said “God, not now I have too much going on”. The “too much” was a one year old and taking care of my mother who was already battling stage 4 lung cancer. Surely God has a sense of humor but I saw nothing funny about what it could have been.
Ok so there I was feeling as my eyes moved from side to side and I pondered what the heck is this? I immediately called my doctor’s assistant and she told me to go straight to Fourth Terrace Diagnostic Center in the morning for an ultrasound. So I did. Bright and early I walked in, went to the counter where I was greeted with a “Hey Dr. Campbell, how are you and how is the baby?”, which to I responded “Giirrllllllll, I need an ultrasound and Logan is great!”. She then said oh dear, head in the back were I sat and did a full array of test from mammogram, which I insisted to have because I had never had one, to the ultrasound.
There I was ‘laying up’ again, but this time instead of viewing my nugget and feeling the joys of pregnancy, I was feeling the doom of the unknown. My brain was going 17272728 miles a minute as I watched every facial expression the radiologist made as she scrutinized the screen and her thoughts and after she carefully chose the next words she uttered. She got up excused herself saying “be right back Doc” and went for her supervisor. Soon after, he walked in and notified me that I would need a biopsy as early as TOMORROW. My immediate thought was, so I’m still on this ride then? I thought. I was never one for surprises or rollercoasters.
That next day with my heart in my stomach I got the biopsy. The experience was as comfortable as any could have been for a large needle being stuck in your boobs. What could I say? It had to be done.
The next week flew by as usual, a single mother with an inquisitive toddler, taking care of her head strong mother; the beautiful “Loverette” which I lovingly called her, who had flown in from Grand Bahama, for her 10th chemotherapy appointment. As we sat and chatted in the waiting room in the PMH Oncology department my phone rang, it was Dr. Homer Bloomfield's office. My Mother locked her eyes and Iistened to the conversation which was no more than 15 seconds of greetings and “oh ok great, I’ll be right over”. My results had come in. I calmly stood up and told Loverette, I’ll be right back. She then uttered something on the lines of if that was my office calling in which I replied “yes”. Did I just lie to my Mother? I sure did! Wouldn’t have been the first time anyway. Who was going to tell her for her to be overly concerned? Not me, she had enough to deal with; I headed to Lyndhurst Medical to get my news.
It was deja vu... December 19th, 2018 exactly a year later on the exact day my Mother was diagnosed; I was anticipating my fate. Bloomfield walked in and said “Alia it’s malignant”. I did a deep breath, one tear slid down my right cheek, I stood up and said “well what’s next?”. No time to cry and feel sorry for myself, my mother had a much tougher battle and she needed me. No pity party, I had too many depending one me and headed back to be at my mothers side like nothing ever happened .
My next appointments would be with Dr. Devaughn Curling and Dr. Williamson Chea, the oncologist and the surgeon to discuss my options. I opted to do a double mastectomy, which was supported by my “village”. I did the extreme in hopes of decreasing the chances it would come out of remission once I beat it; And there was no question that I wouldn’t beat it . I had to, no ifs, ands or buts.
On January 11,2019 I had my surgery, Dr. Chea had given the option to do it before but I gladly declined as I wanted and needed to have Christmas with my family in Freeport, especially my Mother. 2019 to say the least was thee toughest year of my life.
After I healed from my double mastectomy with reconstruction done by Dr. Gregory Neil, I continued my journey with chemo therapy.
April 2019 I had finished my chemo and stood tall, pretty and bald. Everyday I looked in the mirror scarred and flawed wondering who could ever love this? Me! Who is the most important.
As the year progressed I grew stronger but my mother got weaker. In August 2019 she was released as the cancer had taken a toll on her body so we took her home to make her comfortable. On September 9th, 2019 just a month shy of her 69th birthday and the Monday following the devastation of Hurricane Dorian she went to God.
After I lost my mother I suffered survivor’s remorse and went to therapy in hopes to put back together the broken pieces and help live with the parts that were missing, those I had lost.
Today, with the corona virus holding us hostage I stand a new woman, with a new purpose. I live everyday as if it were my last but responsibly. Who I once was, is totally different to who I am evolving to be. A daughter, sister, mother, always was a survivor but now a warrior. God granted me grace and kept His promise to keep me and for that I am forever grateful.
Many people are surprised as to learn what I have gone through. They say I don’t look like breast cancer, I don’t look like I’ve been through anything really and they are exactly right. What we go through does not define us but it can shape us. As a gift... For the better... I take every opportunity to emphasize. Many times you have no idea what people may be going through, which is why it is so very important to always treat everyone with kindness.
Rest Easy Mummy.
About The Author
Dr. Alia Patrice Campbell otherwise known as Dr. A’liilii, is a 41 year old mother and doctor of dental surgery. She made history by being the first Bahamian to have graduated from the University of the West Indies Dental School in Trinidad. Being a firm believer in the best thing you can wear is a smile, she has made it her life’s work to make people want to do just that... Smile. Whether it be through her love for dentistry or her vibrant sense of humor (personality personified) she lives each day responsibly as if it were her last, because at one point it may have been.
With grace from God and the will to live life abundantly with her toddler son, Logan-James by her side, Alia added warrior to her list of attributes. She beat breast cancer in 2019, while at the same time aiding her mother with her battle with lung cancer. Following the passing of her mother in 2019, Alia chose to make a decision to live life fiercely and unapologetically. She makes no excuses for the energy she exudes and the woman she has become. She’s a pink starburst that walks in purpose with passion.
You can follow Dr. Alia on Instagram @AliaPatrice242 and on Facebook @ Dr. Alia Campbell DDS.