Mother & Daughter Survivors Treated for Breast Cancer One Year Apart, Inspired By Deceased Relative’s Fight…FIVE-YEAR UPDATE!!!

Keisha Pooler, her mother Mary Marshall and Keisha’s daughter

Hello World,

As this is the last week of October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I wanted to  tell you that five years later after I originally wrote this post Keisha Pooler and her mother Mary Marshall are still surviving and thriving!!! What follows is my original post in 2015…

I lost two of my Delta line sisters to this hideous disease so this is a cause that is very dear to me. When another one of my sorors Keisha Pooler shared on Facebook that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and began posting pictures of herself at her chemotherapy treatments, I was inspired by her openness and bravery so I thought I would tell her story here. I hope her openness and bravery inspires you as they did me.

Jacquelyn Pullins aka Aunt Jackie

Jacquelyn Pullins aka Aunt Jackie

As an invincible and healthy college freshman at Morris Brown College in 1992 with nothing but time ahead of her, the last thing on then Keisha Pullins’ mind was breast cancer. But an arbitrary search for a pen in the lingerie drawer of her Aunt Jackie Pullins, who the Dublin, Georgia native lived with while enrolled in the Atlanta school, put her in the path of the deadly disease in a way that forever changed her trajectory. “I was digging in her drawer, trying to find a pen, and I ran across her prosthetic. It was shaped in foam and had a nipple on it.  I asked her, ‘Jackie, What is this?’ She said, ‘It’s a fake titty. What do you think it is?'” Her aunt’s clear-eyed, straightforward answer was representative of the sister relationship that Keisha had with her mother’s baby sister, who was in early 40s, who Keisha saw as mostly a sister but a sometime surrogate mother. Her Aunt Jackie also told her niece to not tell anyone as she did not want anyone to worry about her. However, Keisha was worried. “Her diagnosis changed my life. It was representative of something that could transfer into death in my home, in my family.” From then on, at the recommendation of her Aunt Jackie, who found the lump in her breast, Keisha began doing self-exams and has ever since. While Keisha kept her Aunt Jackie’s secret, her secret revealed itself when her aunt came home to Dublin several months later by the end of Keisha’s freshman year to go the the funeral of Keisha’s stepfather. “At the funeral, she became very ill so she started chemotherapy in Dublin. She never made it back to Atlanta.”

While Keisha continued at Morris Brown College, she returned to Dublin periodically to check on her Aunt Jackie and go with her to her chemotherapy treatments when she could. “She was not married, and she had no children so my sister and I were her kids.” After her treatment, her aunt went into remission for roughly four to five years but the cancer came back in 1997 or 1998. She was told she had months to live, but she didn’t want to go through chemotherapy again. Despite her prognosis, she didn’t pass away until 2001. During that time, however, she continued to live and deliver her deadpan humor. When Keisha asked her Aunt Jackie why she was adamant on getting a loan at one point, her Aunt Jackie replied, “Keisha, I’ll be dead before they get the money back.” “I remember thinking that in that moment, she was laughing and dying simultaneously.” However, there were serious moments too. Her aunt made her the beneficiary of her life insurance policies and showed her where to find all of her important documents. Although Keisha’s mother was her Aunt Jackie’s official caretaker, she felt like the then 25-year-old Keisha would be more responsible. “My Aunt Jackie was adamant about my mom getting a mammogram, but she never did. She always said she was scared to find out.”

Keisha and her husband at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on Saturday, October 24.

Keisha and her husband at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on Saturday, October 24. Their daughter is in the background.

In fact, Keisha’s mother, Mary Marshall, would not have a mammogram until she was 68 years old, in May 2013. It was recommended that she get a mammogram as part of a full-body exam after she got sick with shingles. Keisha was concerned when her mother called her after her mammogram and told her that a biopsy was the next step. She called the medical center and asked about her mother’s results. “I said, ‘I know you’re limited in what information you can give, but do I need to make a trip to Dublin to see my mother?”’ She was told that she should come to Dublin so Keisha and her sister made the trip. The same doctor, Dr. Samson, who took care of her Aunt Jackie during her breast cancer treatment was the same doctor that told Keisha’s mother Mary Marshall in front of her daughters that she, too, had breast cancer. “My sister had to leave the room. I took out my pen and started taking notes and asking questions. My mom took a deep breath and said, ‘Okay, what do we do next?’ There were no tears. She was stoic.” She was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in June 2013, and six months of chemotherapy followed by four to six months of radiation was recommended for treatment. Mary Marshall says she cannot pinpoint exactly why she waited so long to have her first mammogram except to say that she saw what her sister went through and did not want that for herself. “I just put it out of my mind.” However, her sister’s example came back to her when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. “In my mind, I said, ‘I’m going to be strong like Jackie. ‘”

In fact, her sister’s strength inspired Mary Marshall so much that she urged her daughter to have a follow up exam after Keisha’s first mammogram at 40 years old revealed that she had some cysts that needed to be further evaluated. Keisha delayed making and keeping the appointment for roughly eight to nine months. While she spent spring break with her daughter in Atlanta earlier this year, she told her that she would not leave until Keisha made the appointment. “I had that feeling that she might follow in my footsteps so I said, ‘Keisha, have you gone?'” So Keisha made and kept her follow up

"The beautiful thing about breast cancer is that puts you in a sorority you never asked to be in."

“The beautiful thing about breast cancer is that it puts you in a sorority you never asked to be in.”

appointment. An ultrasound was done, and a more in-depth evaluation was recommended. She was told she get the results in a week. “I went about my life, but I felt like I was in a cloud like when you see a character in a Spike Lee film and their feet aren’t moving. It felt like I was floating,” says Keisha, who is an instructional coach at Maynard Jackson High School in Atlanta. When she got the call, she was at the school. The news wasn’t what she hoped for. “I stopped breathing for a second. I went outside and sat on one of the benches and took my legs up under me. I asked the doctor, ‘Am I going to die?’ He said, ‘I’m not telling you that is going to happen. Let’s take one thing at a time.” Keisha was reassured when her doctor told her he would be meeting with a team of medical professionals to immediately work on a treatment plan for her stage 1 breast cancer. She was also encouraged when he told her that not all breast cancers are the same as Keisha has borderline triple-negative breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy in June and started chemotherapy in July. Now, she is undergoing radiation. She did not hesitate to share her story on Facebook with her community of friends and has shared photographs throughout her treatment. “I’ve been given the gift of speaking and writing. I think I got it from my mother’s father who was a preacher. He was so influential in the community, and he was always being vocal. It something sits inside of me, it sickens me. And I feel like I am soldier on the front lines, and if I kept it to myself, I’m not only doing an injustice to myself but to Jehovah Jireh.”

After she was told about her diagnosis, she told the news to Marcus, her husband of 16 years. “He said, ‘We’re gonna kick cancer’s @$$! You’ve seen your mama. You’ve seen your aunt.'” The couple then told their 10-year-old daughter. Although her eyes were filled with tears, she said, “‘Okay, mama we got this!'” She gave me a high five, and she gave her daddy a high five.” Providentially it seems, after Keisha’s diagnosis, her husband broke his hand in a car accident and as result, he has had to recover at home with Keisha.  “I feel like I am a seed that was planted, but I was not meant to be buried, I am planted to bloom.”

If you haven’t supported breast cancer awareness through organizations such as The Lola Brown Foundation (the organization named after my deceased Delta line sister) and breast cancer cure research through organizations such as the American Cancer Society, please consider doing so…

Any thoughts?

 

New Birth Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Jamal Bryant Takes Daughter Grace to Daddy-Daughter Dance, Some Critique Her Dress…

Hello World,

The first time I officially danced with my father was during my wedding in 2013. It was one of the most special moments in my life because the first man I had ever loved gave me away to the man I will forever love. I don’t recall any of the schools I attended when I was growing up having a Daddy-Daughter Dance, but I hear about them all of the time now. Apparently, the school where Grace Bryant attends had a Daddy-Daughter Dance on Saturday as Bravo reported that New Birth Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Jamal Bryant took his daughter Grace to one. Grace is also the daughter of Gizzelle Bryant, who is on the cast of  The Real Housewives of Potomac.  Both of the Bryants, who are back together after being divorced for several years, posted about this special occasion on their Instagram pages. But Grace’s dress, which is somewhat short and tight and shiny, has received some critical feedback…Below are some of the comments and Pastor Bryant’s IG post…

“No Mam Grace. Come with a dress to your knees . Y’all look good but no Mam I’m old school.”

“Naw. Naw grace lookin to grown 😭”

“Tell her to get back inside and put a crinoline over that Sir 🤭😉😆”

But I must say, most of the comments were complimentary…So what do I think? Believe it or not, I started receiving attention for my backside when I was still in elementary school. As a result, as I growing up, I tried to wear clothes that weren’t too tight or too short because of the unwanted attention. That being said, that’s just me. If her parents are cool with it, then that’s that…

What say you?

Any thoughts?

The Top 10 Blog Posts and or Magazine Articles for Black Christian Women in December 2019…

 

Hello World!!!

Happy New Year (and Merry Christmas since I missed that…)I took a sabbatical from blogging while I launched my debut novel Destination Wedding but I’m BACK now! I will tell you more about that launch in another blog post, but in the mean time, let me focus on the goal of this blog – blogging the cross section of faith, relationships and pop culture!

So much has happened during my month away and even in these first days of this New Year and I will get to that – but slowly as I get back to my mostly twice a week blogging schedule. In the mean time, as I get back into blogging shape (LOL), I’m back with my monthly roundup of blog posts and or magazine articles for black Christian women. Below is my Top 10 monthly roundup of blog posts and or magazine/newspaper articles for black Christian women for December but you don’t have be a black Christian woman to to check them out. As usual, let me know if you like my list! Enjoy and share!

1.  Miss World’s Win Means Five Black Women Now Hold the Top Pageant Titles — a Historic First” by Katie Mettler

Excerpt: The crowning of Miss World 2019 has closed out this year’s historic pageant circuit, marking the first time the titles for all five top beauty contests were won by black women. On Saturday, Jamaica’s Toni-Ann Singh was named Miss World, joining a 2019 cohort of advocates for prison reform, women’s rights and music education who used their platform to address conventional beauty standards: Miss Universe 2019 Zozibini Tunzi, Miss America Nia Franklin, Miss USA Cheslie Kryst and Miss Teen USA 2019 Kaliegh Garris. “To that little girl in St. Thomas, Jamaica and all the girls around the world — please believe in yourself,” Singh wrote on Twitter. “Please know that you are worthy and capable of achieving your dreams. This crown is not mine but yours. You have a PURPOSE.” See more at: washingtonpost.com.

2. “Another Black Woman Emerges Winner at Miss France 2020 Pageant” by Briefly Team

Excerpt: Another black woman has won a beauty pageant, joining the reign of black queens in major beauty pageants around the world. Miss Guadeloupe, Clémence Botino, was crowned in the 90th edition of Miss France pageant on Saturday, 14 December. See more at: briefly.co.za.

3. “Rosa Parks Statue Unveiled in Montgomery, Alabama on 64th Bus Anniversary” by TMZ

Excerpt: Rosa Parks was memorialized in the city where she was once arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white person … and where a statue of her now stands tall. The bronze life-size figure was unveiled Sunday in Montgomery, Alabama with the help of Mayor Steven Reed — who recently became Montgomery’s first black mayor — as well as Alabama’s governor, Kay Ivey. There were other important people there too, though. Mary Louise Smith was on hand for the unveiling as well — she’s one of the original plaintiffs in the Browder vs. Gayle case that ultimately desegregated buses in Montgomery a year after Parks was arrested. See more at: tmz.com.

4. “‘The Clark Sisters: First Ladies Of Gospel’ Trailer: First Look At Biopic On Iconic And Influential Group” by Shadow and Act

Excerpt: Lifetime has released the first trailer for their upcoming film, The Clark Sisters: First Ladies Of Gospel. The trailer was unveiled in a promotional video for the movie, introduced by Kelly Rowland. Emmy nominee Aunjanue Ellis stars as the sisters’ mother, Mattie Moss Clark. The sisters are Christina Bell as Twinkie, Kierra Sheard as Karen (her real-life mother), Sheléa Frazier as Dorinda, Raven Goodwin as Denise and Angela Birchett as Jacky. The project is executive produced by Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige and Missy Elliott. The description:  The Clark Sisters: The First Ladies of Gospel recounts the story of the highest-selling female gospel group in history and their trailblazing mother, Mattie Moss Clark. Credited with bringing gospel music to the mainstream, the five Clark sisters overcame humble beginnings in Detroit, enduring abuse, loss, rejection, betrayal and sibling rivalries to achieve international fame as icons of the gospel music industry. Christine Swanson is the director of the Sylvia L. Jones-written script. See more at: shadowandact.com. 

5. “Brooklyn Church Evicts Its Former First Lady Before Christmas and Defends the Action” by Nigel Roberts

Excerpt: DITMAS PARK – A dispute that centered in part on how Black churches should treat their pastor’s wife came to a legal resolution. The courts ordered the removal of former First Lady Paula Scarlett-Brown, widow of the late Archbishop Roy E. Brown who founded the Pilgrim Baptist Church in Flatbush, from her home that the church owns. While the legal dispute ended, a moral debate continues about first ladies. See more at: bklyner.com.

6. “Angela Brown, Viral Popeyes Chicken Sandwich Mastermind, is Our Internet Person of the Year” by Kahron Spearman

Excerpt: “There’s a lot of things that [as a Black person/woman] I’ll bring to the table that our team will bring to the table that our clients aren’t aware of,” she asserts. “I think people think that you can get a moment like this [without] people of color, or Black people. And the reality is you can’t. Every community is specific, and you just won’t find these moments without people who know how to find them, and know how to respond.” See more at: dailydot.com.

7. “Michelle Williams Says You Won’t Always Be Everyone’s Favorite Person & That’s OK” by Taylor Honore 

Excerpt: “I’ve done a lot of gospel, so I’m kind of insecure because mainstream [fans] don’t know my voice. And sometimes social media… it’s bad when you read the comments. I like engaging with people on social media. I don’t want to not talk to the people that are being gracious all because there are some mean ones out there.” See more at: xonecole.com. 

8. “6 Things To Consider Before Getting Into An Interfaith Relationship” by Shellie R. Warren

Excerpt: Being that I am a marriage life coach, I often get asked if I subscribe to interfaith marriages. Well, being that I am also a Bible follower (not an evangelical by any stretch, but I do strive for discipleship—John 8:31-32), I have to take into account that the Bible has interfaith couples. One that immediately comes to mind is Boaz and Ruth. He was Hebrew, she was a Moabite—there you have it; an interfaith relationship. (By the way, if you read the story, you might change your tune about “I’m waiting on my Boaz.” See more at: xonecole.com.

9. “New York City Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’ Casts First Black Marie” by Vanessa Etienne

Excerpt: At just 11 years old, Charlotte Nebres has made history. George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker opened Friday (Nov 29) at New York City Ballet, and for the first time in history, a Black girl will be playing the young heroine, Marie.  Charlotte Nebres was cast in the famous production which dates back to 1954. Charlotte was only six years old when Misty Copeland became the first female African-American principal at American Ballet Theater and recalls being inspired by seeing someone on stage who looked like her, The New York Times reports.  Now, Charlotte is a ballerina at the School of American Ballet and will be making a name for herself on stage in The Nutcracker. See more at: bet.com.

10. “Pioneering Black Woman, Who Designs Interior of Cadillacs, Shares Her Road to Success” by  Natasha S. Alford

Excerpt: The road to success has lots of twists and turns, but at least Crystal Windham knows how to ride in style. Her artistic talent and creative thinking are exactly what led her to become the first African-American woman Director of Interior Design at General Motors in 2008. While most people think of “interior designers” as style gurus who only beautify homes, Windham does the same for what she calls people’s second homes: cars. See more at: thegrio.com.

If you know of any black Christian women bloggers and or writers, please e-mail me at jacqueline@afterthealtarcall.com as I’m always interested in expanding my community of black Christian women blogs and websites. As I noted before, while this is a roundup of interesting blog posts and or magazine and newspaper articles for black Christian women, you don’t have to be one to appreciate these pieces  🙂.

Any thoughts?