Over the past 30 years, researchers have found a widening survival divide between black and white women diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States. The Takeaway’s series “Under Her Skin: Living With Breast Cancer” shares the stories of three African-American women coping with the disease.
Over the course of six months, we’ll hear their thoughts and fears, their struggles and triumphs, as their audio diaries capture the realities of a disease that will afflict more than 12 percent of American women at some point in their lives.
Crystal Miller was just 27-years-old when she felt a lump in her breast that turned out to be cancerous. But despite the diagnosis, Crystal remains the same young, bright New York woman she was before she got the news.
"You could see happiness," said Miller. "A woman on a mission. I tend to have my head up high maybe fast paced in some heels. Someone who has someplace to go and is going to accomplish something."
Crystal's positive attitude and sense of bravery is both supported and to some extent hindered by her profession. She is a nurse at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, and she does data management and research on cancer for a living. Being informed and aware enabled her to find the lump in her breast herself, prior to the age that women generally begin receiving mammograms. But it also mean that she has a far keener, and often darker, awareness of the cancer jargon that has invaded her life.
“I'm stage one," said Miller. "I am actually triple positive. Some people are triple negative, I'm triple positive. One centimeter. I've had a lumpectomy. And also an additional thing is I've had my chemo before surgery. A lot of people have it after surgery. In my given case it was better for me to have it before surgery, something I struggled with during the beginning."
Crystal was formally diagnosed just two days before Christmas in December of 2013, and The Takeaway sat down with her shortly following her completion of chemotherapy in June.
Crystal's story is one we will be following for the next six months. To get involved in the conversation join our group on Facebook, Under Her Skin.