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.

monique1

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.

moniquw

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.

image1

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

Advertisements

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?

Processed with VSCOcam with 7 preset

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!

1149060_10151751415648926_170073976_n

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!

1239390_10151839975153926_875422850_n

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.

IMG_3579

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?

Genesis (4)

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.

SnakeskinPurpleWallFull

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

IMG_3676

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 Amanda Muhammad of A Peace of Yoga

A couple of Sunday’s ago, I had the pleasure to experience Yoga with a great friend of mine for the first time. It was an absolutely AH-MAZING experience. For once, I was able to relax. My phone was turned off and it was just me and my breathing, and of course my instructor, my favorite “flower child” Manda! I challenge EVERYONE to try a session with her at least once. I promise you will not be disappointed. So please do me a favor and help me introduce to the world, Amanda Muhammad of A Peace of Yoga. 🙂

Tell me a little about yourself.

IMG_7607

My name is Amanda Safiyyah Muhammad, I am 26 years old and was born and raised in Overland Park, Kansas. I attended the University of Kansas for my Undergraduate Degree in Management & Leadership with a Concentration in Human Resources and recently wrapped up my Masters Program at Baker University where I received my degree in Organizational Leadership. I moved to Dallas in October 2013 and it was the best thing I could have possibly done for my future. I have an incredibly odd obsession with sharks, conscious hip-hop music, love all asian foods, and have a thing for helping others maximize their potential. I am a 2nd Grade Reading Teacher by day and yogi/transformational consultant by morning, day and night.

IMG_7720Now tell me a little bit about your business. How did it start? Where did the vision come from?

My vision for A Peace of Yoga began about 6 years ago while taking Wally Meyer’s Entrepreneurship class at the University of Kansas. At the time, my mom (fellow yoga instructor) and I had began taking yoga classes as an avenue for stress relief while we dealt with multiple tragedies that suddenly directly affected our family. Initially, I was going to start a studio in the downtown Kansas City area with hopes of sharing my practice with our community. God had a different plan and I moved to Dallas and lost sight of my vision for APOY for quite some time. I battled with trying to find passion in something from the moment I crossed the stage at The University of Kansas. I held a couple different positions with great companies but never could fill this void I felt deep in my heart. Anyone who knows me knows that I am an incredibly passionate person and I wanted to do something that would allow me to directly impact and serve others. After diving deep back into my yoga practice and continuously getting this rush I didn’t find anywhere else at the end of every single class, I decided to dust off my business plan and make my vision a reality. I realized that yoga, meditation, and empowerment was my vehicle to helping others transform their lives and to create healthier and happier communities.

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

I’ve been providing private/small yoga sessions in the DFW area along with Vision Board Consulting and Empowerment/Law of Attraction Coaching. I have partnered with a homeless shelter in the DFW area and teach the clients about yoga, stillness, and the power of positive thinking. I am also putting together an athletic clothing drive as an initiative to promote health and wellness in underserved communities. My ultimate goal is to create safe spaces, make yoga accessible to everyBODY (literally), and to help others with their journey to self acceptance and peace.

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

My advice to a fellow Queen is to start before you’re ready, fail fast, be your own number one fan and be cautious of your surroundings. I know it sounds crazy but hear me out. If you wait for the perfect time to take a risk, you will never take it. Your dream will literally be the dusty statue on that shelf you clean one time a year. Go for it. If it doesn’t work out exactly the way you wanted it to, good, you just learned something new for the next journey when you pick yourself up and try again. Experience has hands down been the best teacher for me in learning how to run a business and maintain professional relationships.

It is so important that you cheer yourself on and surround yourself with people who are proud of you and support you in your endeavors… only. My Line Sister doubles as my accountability and vent partner where we lay it all out on the table and help each other to get through the rough days and celebrate the great ones. The reality that you will find is that some people simply want you to be the caterpillar that they met and want nothing to do with the butterfly you are evolving into. That’s the beautiful thing about becoming the butterfly.. you can fly away. Dismiss yourself from negativity and distractions and stay focused on the big picture. No one but you can see your vision and create your reality. My general rule of thumb is to assess the five people that you are hanging around or communicating with the most, are they adding or subtracting from you reaching your goal(s)? Recognize that these five people make up the person that you are and determine the type of relationship you desire to maintain with that person if any.

IMG_7592

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

I’ve always known the importance of supporting black owned businesses because I grew up watching my father develop and run one. However, I didn’t FEEL the importance of it until I actually began developing my own. If you know a fellow King or Queen that is trying to do something on their own, support them. Whether it is liking or sharing a post, purchasing a good or service, or even advertising by word of mouth – trust me; it means a lot. There needs to be a higher level of respect and appreciation for entrepreneurs and their businesses in our community. Money circulates zero to one time within the black community, compared to the more than six times it circulates in the Latino community, nine times in the Asian community and unlimited amount of times within the white community, according to the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth. Stop looking for handouts and find ways to partner or collaborate with businesses versus devaluing our people’s efforts. I think it is incredibly important to bring diversity of all kinds to your businesses, of course, but there is something profound and very beautiful when it comes to watching our people come together and support each others visions.

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

My Instagram and Twitter Handle are both @sfmako1908. I can be directly reached at APOYpractice@gmail.com or through my website, APeaceOfYoga.com

Any upcoming events?

As mentioned before, This fall I will be launching an athletic clothing drive to encourage health and wellness in underserved communities. More information regarding that initiative will be available soon. If you are interested in donating or partnering, please feel free to reach out to me at APOYpractice@gmail.com

Thanks Amanda for the wonderful interview! 🙂

If you know someone or would like to be featured on week on Sister’s with Vision please email me at Sisters.With.Vision2015@gmail.com

Sisterly Love,

B