At age 38, opera and gospel performer and teacher Audra Scott was diagnosis with HER2+, stage 2 breast cancer. Although the diagnosis was life-altering, Audra did not let her passion for music, teaching, and family wan. Instead, she leaned heavily on her faith in God and the support of her family, friends, and students to carry her through. Audra sat down with BGA to share her journey with breast cancer and through her story we learn she’s more than a survivor, she’s a conqueror.
I discovered the cancer from a bloody discharge that came from my areola.
Do you have a history of breast cancer in your family?
Kind of. It is just starting to show itself through 2 generations before my generation
What was your treatment plan after your diagnosis?
I had a double mastectomy with a diep flap (basically, plastic surgery) that took fat from my stomach and filled in my breast. I had to undergo 12 rounds of chemo. I had a bad reaction that put me in the hospital, however, they changed the treatment and we were able to finish. I have now started maintenance pills. I will have to say, I am not the most knowledgeable about it. Most cancer patients know so much, I don’t. So, prayer and a little studying has guided me through.
What advice do you have for young women who may be hesitant about having a mastectomy?
Check your history! I have the brca2 gene which translates to me having an extreme high risk of breast cancer and I also have a high risk of getting ovarian cancer. Plus I had family members that didn’t get the double mastectomy and it traveled to the other breast and they are no longer with us. So it was not an option or thought for me. I didn’t even give them a chance to finish the question. I said, “Take them both, I don’t need them!”
Society typically wants to relegate cancer to older adults, what advice do you have for young Black women on the importance of being intuned with your body and advocating for yourself in a system that does not care about our wellbeing?
It happened to me! I saw more young people in chemo with me than older. They say if you see something, say something. I say if you feel something, do something. I could have actually been better off if I had gone to get the mammogram earlier than waiting until I finished what “I” needed to do. Take care of yourself now so that doctors and your family won’t have to do it later!
I took advantage of the free counseling sessions that came with my health insurance. I also solicited the help of as many cancer survivors as well as current cancer fighters to help me. We were all there for each other. I just tried to get help and information wherever I could. I was a complete sponge, only to find out that everyone’s journey was completely different. Despite that, their advice still always helped.
How have you been keeping your mental and emotional health strong during your treatment?
I stayed strong mentally and physically from knowing the promises of the Lord our GOD. I also had to keep positive people around me. If someone said anything negative for too long I had to remove myself. Lastly, I had an amazing camp around me! It was definitely some dark days but they were not there for long with all the components mentioned above.
I believe that we can find blessings in the toughest of circumstances. What has been the greatest blessing of your journey?
My greatest blessing was figuring out that I can overcome anything! I also found a new purpose in life, in that I still have life and work to do. People say that things like this get you closer to GOD however, I feel as if I were already there. I just waited on the ways that he was going to bless me. I did realize the strength in prayer. That is what got me through!
What’s next for you on your health journey and otherwise?
Well, I had lost a lot of weight before I was diagnosed and that was GOD foreseeing that that was going to be needed for what I was about to endure. The weight lost got me the approval for all the surgeries that I would need but quarantine brought it a lot back. I am going to get that off so that I can have breast reconstruction surgery. I am also taking maintenance pills and the doctors are trying to figure a safe way for me to conceive a child through all of this. BUT GOD!!!