Meet Breast Cancer Survivor Tracee Allen

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is over, but that doesn’t mean that we stop showing support and acknowledging our strong and beautiful survivors. I am so pleased to feature Ms. Tracee Allen, as this week’s Sister With Vision. Her interview was so informative and helpful and I believe that anyone dealing with Breast Cancer or has had to have a double mastectomy and undergo the reconstruction process to please take a look and share this post. Also, please be sure to check out and donate to her gofundme page. Any amount would help. Without further adieu, I introduce to you this black queen full of strength, Tracee Allen.

Tell me a little about yourself. 

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My name is Tracee Allen. I am 41  years old and I’m originally from Indianapolis but l currently live in Bloomington, IN. I am a divorced mother of an 11 year old boy in the 6th grade. My profession is a Commercial Liability Claims Adjuster for trucking companies. I like to travel and spend time with my family.

Please share your story. How did you first find out that you had breast cancer? What stage are you in (if not in remission) and what treatments have you undergone? 

I was already on annual mammograms since 2011 after I had a benign cyst biopsied in my left breast. In July 2014, my doctor said he saw some “suspicious” calcifications he’d like to monitor, but said he wasn’t concerned. He said it would be up to me to choose to biopsy them then, or wait 6 months for another mammogram. Since I had a horrible experience with the biopsy in 2011, I chose to wait. In December 2014, I started experiencing pain in my left breast, but the doctor refused to do my mammogram until the 6 month mark which was February 2015, even though I was able to get a prescription for a bilateral mammogram from my OB/GYN. When I went back in February, they only wanted to scan the right breast until I basically “threw a fit” to do the left too. As long as your insurance will cover a procedure, fight for it! They did the left and nothing was found, but they did find cancer in a milk duct in my right breast. This is considered Stage 0 – Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). The next stage was an MRI which revealed a tumor at the 6 o’clock position of my breast and in my lymph node. This upgraded me to Stage 2A.

Since my 2 areas of cancer were too far apart, the recommendation was a mastectomy. I wasn’t prepared to make surgery decisions yet. Since the doctor said that having chemo before or after surgery would not make a difference in survivability, I chose to do chemo first. I also have Lupus which complicated my surgery, reconstruction and possible radiation decisions. I did 2 rounds of chemo over 5 months and I think I handled it well. I discovered that you have to eat and keep your naps short to prevent vomiting. Food is needed to soak up that chemo in your system. I also took my anti-nausea medicine on time. I felt like crap, but I never vomited.

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Physically, I chose to cut my long hair before chemo into a short cut. I never had a short hairstyle before so I felt that I might as well have fun for the 2 weeks they gave me when my hair was expected to fall out.

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It happened at exactly 2 weeks and I had my aunt buzz cut my hair. I was afraid of getting a cut in my head if I went completely bald. Any cuts or injury after chemo may take longer to heal or lead to infection. It was less traumatic losing little pieces of hair than long stands. I tried and hated wigs so I found a scarf style that I wear all the time. My pathology report showed that all the cancer was removed so I’m overjoyed to be done with cancer treatment but the reconstruction process is very uncomfortable and painful. And thank God I got a double mastectomy because there were “changes” in my left breast that would have led to cancer later.

The Reconstruction Process…..

I’m divorced and have hopes of getting remarried so having breast were important to me. Everyone gave me the speech that a man that truly wanted me, wouldn’t care if I had breast. I’m not confident enough to believe that. Since I wouldn’t know if radiation would be recommended until my pathology came back, I was taking a chance on starting the reconstruction process after the double mastectomy. I chose a double mastectomy because i was worried about the left breast pain before and possible reoccurance in the left. Plus i didn’t want 1 perky right breast and 1 saggy left breast. .lol! I trusted my faith and moved forward with the reconstruction. After the breast surgeon is done, the plastic surgeon comes in and inserts temporary expanders. Currently, I have weekly appointment with the plastic surgeon to inject saline into the expanders until I get to my desired C-cup size . In a couple of months, I will have another surgery to get my permanent implants. Then a few months after that, if I decide, I will get nipples created from my own skin. Soon after those heal, that nipples will have to be tattooed to match my skin tone. So yes, I’m very happy that my cancer treatment is over but the reconstruction process is very uncomfortable and painful. It takes several months to complete.

What advice would you give women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer?

My advice to others is to get a second opinion, try to have someone with you at all your appointments, tape record the consultations with your doctor and keep educating yourself. My brain was about to explode with everything I had to learn and all the decisions I had to make by myself. Fight for the treatment and diagnostic tests you want if you have the insurance coverage.  Also, if women or men have breast cancer in their family history,  get a mammogram as early as possible. I didn’t have any history and my genetics test was negative;  so thank God I was already on routine exams!

IG & Twitter: @gillty98

Gofundme:
fundraising campaign for Tracee Allen’s Breast Cancer Fight:

https://de.gofund.me/we5stdqc

Meet Breast Cancer Previvor, Monique Douglas

This week’s Sister With Vision feature is very special to me. As we all know, this month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it is a disease common in the community of African American women. It is the most common cancer among African American woman and in 2013, an estimated 27,060 new cases of breast cancer and 6,080 deaths were expected to occur among African American women. So it is with great pleasure that I introduce to you Breast Cancer Previvor, Monique Douglas. Please read and share her amazing story.

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My name is Monique Douglas. I am 25 (soon to be 26) years old. I am from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University in 2012 in Organizational Communication. I am currently a clinical training specialist for a hospital in Baton Rouge. My mother is a two time breast cancer survivor and my grandmother, who is now deceased, was a 26 year survivor. My family history of breast cancer is very strong. When my mother was diagnosed, I was 11 years old. Although I knew what breast cancer was, I didn’t know the details. She had a lumpectomy and radiation and was back at work in 6 weeks. For all I knew, my mother was just sick. My parents didn’t make a huge deal out of everything because they didn’t want to scare me. As I got older, my mother educated me on breast cancer and I become aware of how serious it was. My mother was a big part of Susan G. Komen Baton Rouge affiliate and I volunteered numerous times over the years in high school and throughout college.

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Fast forward 13 years from my mother’s first diagnosis, she called me downstairs in May of last year and told me they found cancer in the same breast and same spot as before. I was devastated. I am the only child and have no brothers and sisters that understood how I was feeling at that time, but my mom assured me everything would be okay and she was planning to have a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery ASAP. She found wonderful doctors in New Orleans who performed a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. She did 4 rounds of chemotherapy and was then tested for the BRCA gene, this is the gene that carries mutations for breast and ovarian cancer. In October of 2014, she tested positive for the gene and as soon as she tested positive I went to my doctor to see about getting tested. In my mind, I almost knew I would test positive because of my strong family history. I was sent to a breast specialist, Dr. Hailey in Baton Rouge and he told me my percentage (chance of Breast cancer) was so high that he suggested that I have a double mastectomy with reconstructive surgery within the year. I WAS FLOORED!!!! I was 24 and was planning to wait at least 5-10 years to have such a drastic surgery, but I did not hesitate with my decision. I remember him telling me “Monique it isn’t a matter of IF cancer will show up, honestly it’s a matter of WHEN.” From there he gave me recommendations for a plastic surgeon to do the reconstructive part and I started doing my research.

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A few months earlier, I went with my mother to a doctor when she was trying to find a surgeon, Dr. Sadeghi in New Orleans, who really impressed me. I decided to call his office and explain my situation to them the staff was SO helpful and caring and in January I went for my consultation and scheduled my surgery in February 2015. I have a double mastectomy with DIEP flap reconstruction. They removed all of my breast tissue and made new breast from fat from my abdomen. All together I had 3 surgeries over 8 months and can say I do not regret my decision. My chance of breast cancer occurring went from 84-86% to 1-2% which is AMAZING. I feel and look the same way I did before the surgery besides my scars across my abdomen and on my breast and I can live better knowing how much my chances have increased. I will get ultrasounds of my breasts and ovaries every 6 months to stay on top of things just in case but will no longer need to get mammograms. Not everyone with the BRCA gene may not make the decision I made to have a double mastectomy at such a young age, but I encourage you to get checked regularly and if something doesn’t feel right go see the doctor. Nobody knows your body as well as you do.

Thank you so very much, Monique for sharing your story. It takes great courage to be so transparent with the world, on a such a sensitive subject as this. You are truly a Sister With Vision. 

With Sisterly Love,

B

Meet Madame Hunte 10.21.15

So there is this extremely talented Soror of mine. Her voice is absolutely beautiful and like no other. What I love about her most is her free spirit and beautiful personalty. I was floored by her interview and I know you all will enjoy it to. Please meet this week’s Sister With Vision, Madame Hunte and be sure to check out her AH-MAZING song, Lava Burns at the end of this interview and let her know what you think! 🙂

Tell me a little about the person behind the voice?

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The person behind the voice is a woman whom is made within the nature of her creation which consist of light, beauty and love. I fight to protect the goodness of the Earth by helping to bring out the best within those that are in my reach. That is my mission and one of my purposes on this planet. I enjoy the vibrations of life and the depths it unapologetically takes me through spiritually and physically. Therefore, I meditate on mantras to help me better understand the world around me and where I can service it best.
The woman behind the voice is a woman whom is constantly building on inner self, a woman whom has accepted her flaws and chooses to create safe spaces for them to manifest into tools use to strengthen her very being.

I am a storyteller that lived many lives before. Therefore, as a true student of language; whether it may be in the form of poetry, the quiet cyphers I have with myself in my room, music , monologues, books or body language, it is all used within my music to further the art of storytelling. The portal of my imperfections is what is used to allow my writing to come from the most authentic and vulnerable place within. My purpose is to use Music as a platform to reach the minds of those that choose to live within the realm of truth, light, love.

Who is your musical inspiration and why?

I love the electricity that James Brown would have on stage. I love Prince for the daring bravery to be himself, the womaness of Jill Scott, the realness of Erykah Badu, the spark that Janelle Monae brings everytime she performs and Missy Elliot for her swag on every track and uniqueness in each video! Each of these artist never cared about what society thought of them. They stayed true to their vision and to themselves. I admire that a great deal! So often, the entertainment business makes you feel as though you have to sound like what’s popular on the radio. These artist made a CULTURAL IMPACT by just being themselves. That is what I am constantly in awe of when I think about true artistry. Therefore, I make music that makes me feel good and if others feel it as well, then that’s a major BONUS!

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At what point did you realize that singing is something you would enjoy doing so much?

I realized that being an artist is something that I would enjoy at a very early age. I’ve always been very attracted to tones and sounds. I’ll never forget when my father asked me at the age of seven what I wanted to be when I was older. I told him, I wanted to be a singer. He looked puzzled! Being the business man that he his, I’m sure at the time he wanted me to say that I wanted to be a doctor. lol! I believe that children know where their heart lies and it isn’t until they get older and someone tells them that they can’t do it , that their dreams change. We have to encourage our children’s dream. Thankfully, I have supportive family and friends that challenge my career path in loving way. That is important to keep around. I’ve always wanted to be an artist. The dream never dies, it just takes new form.

During your musical journey, have you ever had a moment where you felt like giving up? If so, how did you overcome it?

I can never give up on my journey. I know for a fact that I am to use music as a torch in my life. What becomes difficult is the uncertainty of the road I walk while on this path. The jump from knowing what you want to do to not knowing exactly how to get there causes discomfort. So, I’ve decided to just put one foot infront of the other and just start walking. We will see where the road leads. There’s a beauty to the unknown. It gives you jitters and can be fearful. The challenge is in your approach. So I always question myself, am I going to let fear of the unknown stop me from fulfilling my purpose? The unknown is dark at times. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have my bouts of darkness. However, understanding life’s paradoxes, will teach you that you can not know light without knowing the dark. I say this to say, get to know the side of yourself that is rarely seen to the public because it is that journey in particular that you will grow from the most! That is how I overcome fear, I confront it.

What encouraging words would you give a young Queen that is interested in singing professionally?

The only way you’ll rise, is if you’ve understood the fall. Trust the fibers that make you , YOU! They will guide you into the Phoenix that you are rising to be. Don’t be lazy! Im guilty of that myself, but you are only holding yourself back. Study artist that made people uncomfortable . There is a beauty to their artistry because art is never about comfort. Stay true to your vision. If you can see it, then it is tangible and within your reach! Also, stay woke! Be aware of those that surround you. Ask the higher power to give you a clearer understanding of those that walk with you. Keep your circle small and make sure you are surrounded by those that will check you when needed. Spread love, always!

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My music will be posted on : Soundcloud.com/MadameHunte
Upcoming events will be posted on my

IG: @Madame_Hunte

Facebook: Sharmelle Hunte

Snap: Madame_Hunte

Be on the look out for my upcoming EP entitled: Asylum

I’d like to say, thank you to Bridgette for your love and patience with me throughout this interview. Its such an inspiration to see women supporting other women and I am forever grateful to you for creating such a platform for us to do so. You are a Queen!

Meet Shani Michelle of Genesis 7 Image Consulting

It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to this weeks Sister With Vision! We have made it to Week 9 yall!!!! 🙂 This beautiful Queen is a Certified Image Consultant in the DFW area. She makes it clear that she is not just focused on your “image” but the empowerment of women as well. Which I believe is absolutely amazing! Everyone do me a favor and meet, Shani Michelle of Genesis 7 Image Consulting.

Tell me a little about yourself.

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My friends call me Shani Michelle and I’m an Austin native living in Dallas, TX. My passion is supporting women in their efforts to be their best selves. I travel between Dallas and Austin on a regular basis to meet clients for Genesis 7. I love exploring both cities, meeting new people and finding new boutiques, stores, restaurants, and lounges. One of my favorite activities is attending live music shows. I try to go to at least one or two music festivals every year. I love the energy and seeing all of the great festival fashions. I also have an appreciation for art and dance. I danced for 11 years and I was a photographer in high school. I’m starting to get back to those passions and incorporate them into my business as well.

Now tell me a little bit about your business. How did it start? Where did the vision come from?

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I’ve been styling myself, friends, and family members since I can remember but I turned it into a business in 2014 and recently became a certified image consultant. I’ve always enjoyed helping women feel and look their best. In the beginning I had this very holistic approach to providing women with services to be their best selves. I offered coaching in health, wellness, beauty, fashion, fitness, and it was all about living a healthy and balanced lifestyle. After a while I decided that I needed to focus in on just one so I went with the one area that came most naturally to me– style.

Have you reached out into the community? If so, what have you done?

I reach out to other entrepreneurs in the community, so that we can support one another in our work. I’m the organizer of two meetup groups in Austin and Dallas called “Simply Stylish Austin” and “Simply Stylish Dallas”. In late fall, I will start working with non-profit organizations in Austin that help to provide low-income women with clothing and accessories.

What advice would you give a young Queen trying to start their own business?

When God places a passion in your life, just run with it. Don’t ask how or why just do it! Walking in faith toward your destiny empowers you and it empowers others. Second, be grateful for the people and the resources that show up to help you with your business.

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How important do you think it is for us Black people to support other Black owned businesses?

There’s a lot of power and value in the Black dollar and it’s important that we recognize that and support one another. The only reason we have made it this far is through unity and by supporting one another. Black business women have the power to change and uplift their families and communities. Business for me is not just about money, but it is about serving and coaching others to be their best selves holistically. My spirituality encourages me to serve and support women, but I’m also inspired by women like Madame C.J. Walker and others who took risks to make their businesses a reality when Black people faced so many challenges. Black people have to be willing to use their money wisely to build business and to support our businesses. Last year during Blackout Black Friday, the nation saw the power of Black buying power.

How does a person find you and connect with you via social media for questions regarding your business?

Website: http://www.genesis7consulting.com
Email: michelle@genesis7consulting.com
Instagram: @_genesis7_
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/genesis7consulting
LinkedIn: Genesis 7 Image Consulting
Meet Up: Simply Stylish Dallas Simply Stylish Austin
Thumbtack: Genesis 7 Image Consulting
About.me: Shani Michelle
Twitter/Periscope: @Genesis7Style

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Any upcoming events?

We have an October 24th meetup and fashion shoot for women who need photos for their websites, blogs, social media, modeling portfolios, or women just wanting to get some pictures in their best fall outfits. They’ll showcase suede, fringe, lace-up tops and vintage inspired prints. It will be a lot of fun!

Anything else you would like to add?

Yes, style is so empowering for women. Style is something for everyday and not just for events. I consider it a privilege to support women who are choosing to make their lives better every day. One of my favorite quotes is, “Personal style is accepting who you are.” The work I do helps women to appreciate and assert themselves in a world that is always trying to force them into a fashion box. Genesis 7 is about liberating and encouraging women to love and represent themselves in a positive way. For me, style is all about self acceptance and it’s an unspoken language. Your style speaks before you even have a chance to say a word. It’s so important and I truly love helping women live their lives in style.

Shani Michelle
Genesis 7 Consulting
Image & Style Consultant
(972) 674-1023
“Live your life in style.”

Meet Thee Black Bradshaw Carrie Sierra

It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to this week’s Sister With Vision. Let me tell you how this young lady has helped me through some of my most recent darkest of hours. She has truly an amazing spirit and a smile that can light up a room. And she has style out this world. She was my inspiration and gave me the push I needed to actually jump start my blog. So please meet Thee Black Bradshaw, Carrie Sierra.

 Tell me a little about yourself?

I am Thee Black Bradshaw CarrieSierra. I am a blogger, wardrobe stylist, and Inspirationist. Optimistic goal digger who is constantly evolving as I figure out this thing called life.

Have you ever dealt with insecurities? If so, how did you overcome them?

Yes, I’ve definitely dealt with my own share of insecurities. To be honest I still deal with some to this day. Once I started to figure out who I was in Christ my insecurities started to minimize themselves. I fully grasp the concept that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. There’s no one on this planet like me and I am a daughter of the King. I’m not going to say that I still don’t have my days, we all do. I just constantly remind myself that I am worthy and those insecurities are minuscule compared to the gifts the Lord has blessed me with.

What does being “perfectly imperfect” mean to you?

Being 100% comfortable in your own skin. Knowing that it’s okay to not be perfect. Not harping on those insecurities, doing so does nothing but destroy any self esteem and self
worth one does has. No need to b perfect we serve a perfect God and that’s all that matters. Besides He’s not looking for perfection, He loves us regardless in our stages of brokenness and that’s what makes being “perfectly imperfect” so perfect.

 If you had the chance, what would be one thing you would tell a young girl dealing with low self esteem or insecurities?

To remember that there’s no one in this world like her. She was in fact fearfully and wonderfully made. Hating yourself or dwelling on those insecurities does nothing but breed more insecurities. She can convert that negative energy into something else positive. Try pointing out things she loves about herself. All in all the heart that’s meant to love you will see those “insecurities” as perfect.

carriebabyNow tell me a little bit about your business. How did it start? Where did the vision come from? Have you reached out into the community? If so, what have you done?

I own my own blog and wardrobe styling business. My brand is referred to as Thee Black Bradshaw. It’s crazy how it came about, growing up I’ve always been into fashion and I was semi obsessed with Carrie Bradshaw’s closet off of Sex in the City. In the beginning my business was solely suppose to be about fashion but over time as I slowly found out who I was and what my purpose was it blossomed into so much more. I aim to be more than just a wardrobe stylist, I want to transform people’s lives. By sharing inspiration, being completely transparent, and walking in my purpose God has destined for me. I have reach out yet within my community but I do have many ideas that I’ll be putting into affect on the near future.

What advice would you give a young Queen trying to start their own business?

Don’t over think it just start. I think the hardest part about starting a business is actually making the first step. We become so overwhelmed thinking about everything we need to accomplish that we never start. Break everything down to the simplest form. Ask yourself daily, “What can I do today that’ll put me one step closer to making my dreams a reality?” and do just that. Remember slow progress is better than no progress at all. Another important factor is never compare. Comparison is the thief of joy. How can you water and nurture your own grass when your worried about what’s on the other side. You can’t enjoy your own meal if your focussed on the next mans plate. Find your purpose, create your “Why”, and stay in your lane. You’ll make it to your destination.

How important do you think it is for us as blacks to support other black owned businesses?

It’s critical that we support one another. Imagine how many more jobs will be created if we supported more black businesses.

How does a person find you and connect with you via social media for questions regarding your business?

http://www.theeblackbradshaw.com
TheeBlackBradshaw@gmail.com
IG: @TheeBlackBradshaw

Any upcoming events?

I’m currently working on a website release gathering as well as starting my own YouTube channel. Wish me luck xoxoxo

Meet Nell Coleman of The Bald Movement

I remember walking the campus of UAPB with this young lady and the band trips with M4. Ahhh those were the days. 🙂 What I remember and admire most about Nell is her beautiful, bold, personality and spirit as ive watched her build her brand and make a name for herself in this world. So it’s my honor to present this weeks “Sister With Vision”…..Nell Coleman. 

Tell me a little about yourself.

My name is Nell Coleman, born and raised in Little Rock, AR. I currently reside in New York pursuing my career as a model and managing an online movement called The Bald Movement. The movement is designed to help women regardless of their reason or desire of being bald to realize that Hair is like an accessory, whether you have it or not, it doesn’t determine your beauty or your worth, you do.

nell2Have you ever dealt with insecurities? If so, how did you overcome them?

This movement was built based on my past insecurities that were developed due to allowing others opinions of me to define me. I was very insecure about my skin color, my teeth, but mostly, MY HAIR. I overcame these insecurities by realizing that I was beautiful because I SAID SO but of course, I made some changes. I got braces to fix my teeth, shaved all of my hair off to free myself from the stress that it brought, and embraced the skin that I’m in because my skin is beautiful. I gained confidence in myself that I thought I could never obtain but with applied faith and much help from loved ones, I reached my main objective which was to love and accept myself regardless of what others thought.

What does being “perfectly imperfect” mean to you?

Being perfectly imperfect simply means being me to the best of my ability regardless of my circumstances or flaws. I’m happy with me, I accept me, I embrace me and that’s what matters most.

If you had the chance, what would be one thing you would tell a young girl dealing with low self esteem or insecurities?

While living in Little Rock, AR, I worked with a small group of teens who were all insecure for their own reasons. My goal was to teach them that regardless of where they come from or what was told to them, what mattered most was what they thought of themselves. I’ve learned that whatever you allow to occupy your thoughts, it will magnify in your life, so I had to figure out what they thought about themselves and then help them to change that negative thought into a positive one. Though it was a challenge, with much practice of positive thinking, overtime they would begin to realize just how amazing they were simply b/c they trained themselves to believe this. This is the same thing I do with The Bald Movement. For more info in regards to the movement visit www.TheBaldMovement.com

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Anything else you would like to add?

Bridgette, I appreciate you for allowing me to share a little piece of my life with you. I hope in turn this will also help others to realize just how beautiful and amazing they are too. As I always say, There’s nothing more beautiful than a woman who’s unafraid to be herself.

Peace & Love

Thanks for reading loves! Make sure you check Nell’s movement out! It’s simply Amazing! 

Love, 

B