If you're part of our Instagram-fam, you already know our Ms. July, Tonya Richburg-Wilson.
Reiterating one of her favorite mottos, we lead this month's blog with Tonya's inspired message to "do you boo!"
And she practices what she preaches.
At 45, Tonya was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) considered the earliest form of breast cancer and invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) considered the most common form of breast cancer making up 80% of all breast cancers.
As Tonya tells it, strong parental love encouraged her to fight with inspiration from her mother to ask God for healing and a loving reminder from her father to have grace and mercy.
Between her parents and her faith, Tonya suited up to face her treatment, which included a lumpectomy, removal of one lymphnode, and then another surgery for the removal of remaining margins.
For those who may not be familiar, margins refer to the edge - or rim - of normal tissue that remains, surrounding where the cancer was removed. At some point during or following surgery, a pathologist will examine this rim to make sure there are no remaining cancer cells present.
There are three variations of results that determine your next step. A clean report, also referred to as clear or negative, means that there are no remaining cancer cells and therefore generally no further surgery is needed. A positive report means cancer cells are still present and reach as far as the edge of where the tissue was removed. In this instance, surgery is most likely needed. However, the third variation would be a close report, which indicates that cancer cells are present and close to the edge of where tissue was removed - but not as close as in the previous instance of a positive report. If you receive a close report, while surgery may be needed, it is not as likely as the previous instance of a positive report.
For Tonya, after her surgeries, and the final removal of margins, she entered the next phase of treatment which included chemotherapy followed by daily radiation.
With such an enduring course of treatment, Tonya sharpened her focus on self-care and faith.
"I stay 'prayed-up' and took care of me first," she said. (FYI: We LOVE that!)
One of her favorite scriptures, depending on your bible of choice - reads loosely as follows, "For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope." (Jeremiah 29:11 NRSV)
Tonya followed that hope when she penned her first book in late 2017 titled "It's (Still) Me Only Better - My Life Before, During and After Breast Cancer."
Now focused on her second book, Tonya also enjoys working out, cooking, and spending time with her grandchildren, family, and friends. She also keep the faith attending church, events, and spreading awareness by sharing her story to inspire others. (Thank you!)
Aside from our title, Tonya's other go-to phrase is, "I was not built to break," which we can see, clearly. She also resonates with lyrics from her favorite Gospel song, "You Thought I Was Worth Saving."
As we applaud Tonya's strength and journey, we also send her warm birthday wishes as she celebrates later this month.
Until next time, keep up with us on Instagram @eyeofthesurvivor and always keep your Eye on Strength!