I take pride in finding ways to maintain and sustain health to help myself and others in living a happy and healthy life. Like many others, I am a from a large family who survived but endured many struggles back in the 1970s and 1980s. Although neither of my hard-working parents graduated from high school, they did their best in raising well mannered and God-fearing children who have all achieved success at some level. But my family like so many others endured the typical struggles of this era: racism, inequality, poverty, lack of education, lack of health care/insurance, etc. which led many to stress, drugs, violence, lack of exercise, poor diet choices, and major illnesses. Sadly, my mother suffered from Breast Cancer, Diabetes, Hypertension, and eventually Obesity in her later years.
I was in the middle of my college term when my mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. In my opinion, the other medical conditions exhibited mild symptoms which were tolerable or a lack of symptoms which did not have the same impact as the Breast Cancer diagnosis. This is because so many of us in the African-American community see conditions such as Cancer, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), etc. as a death sentence due to our own ignorance and fear. Initially, my mother and our family went through a phase of shock and denial and pondered “Why did this happen to us?” However, my mother (the matriarch of our family) regained her spirit of resilience through prayer and faith in Christ. My mother simply remembered how Christ had already delivered her in the past, decided to focus on Christ instead of the cancer, and decided to make the most of her life by living as healthy as possible in spite of her circumstances. My mother also realized that her Breast Cancer Survivorship was part of her God-given purpose to be a blessing to others who would be facing similar struggles. After careful discussion with her doctors and our family, my mother completed a Lumpectomy (removal of a lump from the breast) followed by weeks of Chemotherapy and Radiation. Although my mother lost her hair, her energy, her appetite, etc., she eventually bounced back like a champion and was able to resume many of her routine activities. By the grace and mercy of God, my mother took her life back.
Prior to my mother’s passing a few years later, she shared with me that she thoroughly enjoyed her life, her childhood, her marriage and adult life, and all of her trials, triumphs, struggles, and blessings. She also shared that she wanted the future generations of the Mitchells and many other families to learn from her mistakes. My mother taught me that anything is possible as long as you believe in yourself, love yourself, prepare yourself, and take good care of yourself. My mother instilled in me that I should be better than her, encouraged me to get educated, and find ways to help myself and others from enduring her struggles. Thus, my mission as a nurse is to help lead others to educating and empowering themselves, getting early screenings and testing on a routine basis, obtaining and annually visiting a Primary Care Physician, checking, recording, and understanding their numbers: Blood Pressure, Blood Sugars, Cholesterol levets, etc., encouraging regular exercise and activity, eating healthier foods, and finding ways to decrease stress and enjoy each day.
We as women today have been privileged with many important roles in our families, our careers, and in church ministry. In my nursing career, I have learned that so many of us put everyone and everything before ourselves. Although our nurturing and self-less nature are positive attributes, we as women fail to take proper care of ourselves. Just as making time for God is considered a priority, making time for self is also a priority along with taking care of our physical, mental, and emotional health. There is nothing selfish in sacrificing a few minutes each day in finding ways to make you happy. Yes, I said it. “Me Time is Essential to My Health.” To anyone who needs assistance regarding Cancer or any type of medical illness, Education is Key! Please consult your physician for all types of therapies and treatments available and get help in a timely manner. Here is a list of our body systems that need to be routinely examined for optimal health: Cardiovascular System (Heart), Respiratory System (Lungs), GastroIntestinal System (Stomach, Kidneys, Liver, Pancreas), and Reproductive Systems (examples of screenings include Mammogram, Pap Smear, and Prostate Exam) as early detection and diagnosis have led to healthier outcomes.
We still have a long way to go but rest assured I know my mother would be proud of the progress made thus far. Let us continue to move forward in touching, healing, and saving the lives of so many others. This story is dedicated to my wonderful mother who embodied so many roles: faithful daughter in Christ for 57 years, devoted wife of 40 years, mother of 8 children, and loving sister, aunt, mother-in-law, grandmother, God-mother, and friend to so many. Rest in Peace momma. I love you and miss you always. God Bless!
Tracy E. Mitchell RN,BSN