5 inspiring lessons from breast cancer survivor Kommah McDowell
October 22, 2015 | by Valerie Howard
Kommah McDowell’s prognosis was devastating. When the then 29-year-old was told that she had advanced, triple-negative inflammatory breast cancer, her doctor at the time said she had a 5 percent chance to live. He also said she would never have children.
Her journey to recovery – and the many joys that came with it, including giving birth to a healthy son - all began with her decision to get a second opinion at City of Hope.
“City of Hope treated me as a person. I wasn’t just a patient; a chart. I mattered,” Kommah said of her experience. “My team cared for me all through the journey. They knew what was important to me.”
Now, 10 years later and completely cancer free, Kommah describes her life as a “dream come true.” Her inspiring story is one of the patient success stories featured in a new campaign that highlights City of Hope’s unique approach to patient care, “The Miracle of Science with Soul.”
Here are five things Kommah wishes she’d known when she began her journey, shared previously on Breakthroughs.
My body parts do not define me as a person or a woman. The thought of having my breast removed was a big pill to swallow, however, the thought of keeping it with my days numbered was not an option. I quickly realized that life is more precious than my breast.
Cancer was the greatest challenge of my life that has refined me to be the person I am today. I thank God for the new me. I am stronger than I have ever been spiritually, mentally and emotionally.
Cancer is expensive! Proper money management and investments will pay off during the costly journey through cancer treatment.
It is OK to be selfish for once in your life. I was so accustomed to taking care of everyone and everything else before me that it was difficult for me to be on the receiving end of need. However, I have since learned that it is OK to think of my needs before others at times. It is OK to ask for help. It is OK to not want company because you don't feel well. It is OK to not answer your cell because you don't feel like talking. It is OK to cry just because you feel like it. It is OK to be selfish for this moment in time as you focus on surviving.
My faith in God has increased greatly through my journey. As fired up as I was to start chemo and be rid of cancer, after my first treatment I was knocked down pretty hard. At that moment, I realized there was nothing anyone could say to encourage me to go on EXCEPT God. I had to know that He would be there to help me bear the pain and discomfort. I had to know that He would not give me more than I could bear. Without God, I would have given up! My faith was completely renewed and is now stronger than ever before.
Learn more about our unique patient experience, how to make an appointment or get a second opinion at City of Hope. You may also request a new patient appointment online or call 800-826-HOPE (4673) for more information.