Nine years ago, Tia Bullett’s life took a drastic turn.
Despite having a thriving career, her personal life was crumbling: She was going through a divorce. And little did she know, her personal affairs would get worse, due to one word — cancer.
“I went for a mammogram and the doctor saw a pea-size object in my right breast,” she now recalls.
Her diagnosis was followed by several surgeries, removal of the right breast and, finally, reconstructive surgery. Those key steps saved her life.
“I did not let a lot of people know when I was first diagnosed. I kept it undercover,” says Bullett, a transplant from Martinsburg, West Virginia.
News of cancer and her divorce were literally one week apart. “I was mad at God,” she says.
Not surprisingly, Bullett’s emotions ran the gamut, from depression to thoughts of suicide.
That was August 2006. Today Bullett is happy, cancer-free and grateful that she heeded the advice to conduct monthly breast self-examinations.
Her road to recovery, though, was not without bumps.
To cope with her ailment, Bullett assembled a support system that included family and sorority sisters. Strangely, one person on that team, Pamela Jones Dixon, had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, one year before Bullett received her devastating news. The two developed a bond that was unbreakable.
“At the time, she (Dixon) was pregnant,” says Bullett, adding that Dixon decided to give birth and skip chemo.
Sadly, Dixon died.
“She made an incredible sacrifice for her child,” Bullett says of her friend.
Dixon’s act of bravery and Bullett’s triumph over cancer later gave birth to a annual fundraising event Bullett launched called Chocolate For A Cure. All proceeds go to the American Cancer Society and to help pay for women of color to get mammograms, she said.
“I love chocolate, and chocolate represents African American women and other minority women,” says Bullett. “We are dying faster than our counterparts. It’s because we put others first and ourselves last.
Putting herself last won’t happen at Chocolate for A Cure. The event will celebrate breast cancer survivors and those who fought a good fight, like Dixon. To honor her, Bullett created the Pamela Jones Dixon Chocolate Warrior award, given each year to a breast cancer survivor.
This year’s keynote speaker will be Dr. Jacqueline Waters, a two-time breast cancer survivor. Waters, an OB/GYN in Atlanta, is part of the ensemble cast of Bravo TV’s “Married To Medicine.”
And, of course, there will be plenty of chocolate. (This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.)
“Who would have thought that today I’d be speaking to others about my journey,” said Bullett, who now shares her message of survival with both women and men. She chuckled recalling how, when she speaks to men’s groups, she often finds them glancing at her breast.
“But I’m comfortable, and I’m alive,” she said.
For more details on the event, visit: chocolateforacure2015.eventbrite.com.
Until next time, I wish you joy, wellness and good health!