I love traveling and sharing information that can help women through their breast cancer diagnosis. Being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer I never knew what part of my life would change, or even if it would change at all. There were a lot of what ifs and many many questions. Diagnosed at 43, I had to learn all the medical jargon that centered around cancer. Biopsy, mammogram, ultrasound, CT Scan, PET Scan, MRI, Power Port, new hospital, new doctors and new medicines. Surgeries, chemo, targeted therapy, estrogen, HER 2 positive, lymph nodes, reconstruction, tumor markers, platelets, CBC blood work and words I still have to ask my doctor what they mean.
In October 2019, I was chosen as an Emerging Global Leader with A Fresh Chapter along with 6 Americans, 6 Kenyans and 6 representatives from Eli Lilly to Kenya. I had expectations of what I would be doing, but then again, I didn’t. I guess my first question to myself was “How can Sheila make a difference in the lives of Kenyans”? Initially I didn’t think I was making a difference and I actually cried about it. Being so passionate about what I do made my heart not understand that passion could lead to a domino effect of LOVE, STORYTELLING and exciting CONNECTIONS. We all had roommates and my first Kenyan roommate was Samhu. We were roommates for 9 days. She was very soft spoken and we instantly found a sisterly connection. Every night we had movie night and I can remember her saying “Sheila you seen all the movies.” I would laugh and she would laugh and then we would talk about our lives. About how we wanted change and how I wanted to help Kenya as much as I could. I was only their for two weeks so I was trying to do as much as possible for the time that I had.
I went to hospice and palliative care centers, treatment centers, was given presentations about the Kenyan health care system and enjoyed the food. I learned about table banking and I even went to a Barraza where a village came together to hear stories of cancer survivors and to be educated on cancer. I told them I was from Illinois, home of Barack Obama and they laughed and then I shared my story of HOPE. I wanted the people of that village to know cancer is not a death sentence. I even told my story along with Sally, a Kenyan fellow in a waiting room of a hospital. I also taught the Sheraton hotel staff how to perform their self- breast exams and I knew then my power came from sharing. My power came from connecting with those who needed to hear my story. Sometimes we don’t realize the power God has given us that’s already within us. I didn’t realize that before going to Kenya. My question to God was “Why did you give me so much power?” Is it because I needed to be able to share my story and give people from another country their power. I gave them their power back through my story. I wanted them to know that Cancer is not a death sentence and that we Americans and our Kenyan fellows are here to educate and help. We impacted over 600 lives with multiple stories from all the survivors. I say to you what makes you powerful? What makes you want to go out and impact the world? I found my POWER. What’s Yours?