#MyLifeIsMyLegacy series by Tigerlily Foundation is a collection of intimate vignettes showing the lives and living legacy of remarkable individuals. Personal stories of people living with Stage IV cancer, early-stage cancer in addition to medical experts, industry trailblazers, caregivers who have not been diagnosed with cancer. These stories build a bridge of knowledge, love, faith, hope and transformation that help us understand the impacts of cancer and provide guidance that will help generations to come.
Kiana feels that society is conflicted on what women should look like. Women are constantly being given images that tell them what should define self-worth, but Kiana has moved past any of this and owns her body and her worth.
When her husband encouraged her to get the lump in her breast checked out due to discomfort that was impacting her job as a chef, Kiana initially thought she was too young for it to be breast cancer. After diagnosis, Kiana felt decisions were being thrown at her, that she was not included in her decision making.One of these decisions was to get breast implants after her breast were removed.It was presented to her in a way that made her feel that because she is young and married, implants would make her look better.Compelled by societal norms of femininity, Kiana endured multiple surgeries, risking her life to meet beauty standards.
While Katrina is thankful that she is alive, cancer treatment has left Kiana with neuropathy that can be challenging, impacting her career as a chef.Kiana wants women to know her story so they can decide for themselves what’s best for their individual body, and to make informed decisions about the treatments and option to have reconstruction or to not have reconstruction.No woman should be stigmatized based on whether or not she has breasts, the size or if she has scars.
Kiana has learned to love herself as a complete person and this is the only standard she lives by.She wants to empower other women to fully love themselves too.
This is Kiana’s legacy.
Advocating and Bringing Hope for the Future
A cancer diagnosis came as a complete shock to Melissa.Knowing that breast cancer runs in her family, she’d taken every measure she knew of to reduce her risk of being diagnosed.
In addition to having a healthy lifestyle, Melissa did what she knew best – she knew her body enough to know when something was wrong and to see the doctor.Yet, when she did, she was told to come back at 40 years old for a mammogram.So, self-advocacy kicked in. After insisting on getting a mammogram, she got an ultrasound, and was diagnosed with cancer.
Melissa’s biggest advice for doctors is that they listen to their patients, so that patients and doctors can work together to understand each other.She is advocating for a future where we no longer have disparities and receive equal care as human beings.
Melissa turned all her emotions into advocacy and became a Tigerlily ANGEL Advocate, supporting women that look like her, and bringing hope, change and empowerment to others.Melissa’s advocacy inspires her children and everyone around her to know their bodies, be their best advocates, know when to speak up, to keep working to remove barriers, and to keep moving towards a world without cancer and survival for all.
This is Melissa’s legacy.
YouTube = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRL-Wn_2trQ&list=PLE-CxJeQXaUQYW73p9__1FAUUydrdNgxc&index=12
We Are the Change
There is so much about our healthcare system that needs change.Patients have the option of being passive consumers of this system or being empowered to take control.These women are taking control.They are taking a stand. They are taking their place at tables to ensure that policy changes are made in order to have equity for all, particularly communities facing the highest disparities- and they’re doing this work side by side with their sisters, and heart by heart.
The work they are doing to change policy for triple negative breast cancer will ensure women have improved access to screening, targeted medicines and equity in health care.
Their living legacy work will ensure that when we talk about Black women, it’s with messages of hope and life.
This is their legacy.