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Dancing through the pain

GSU student LaTangela Bell dignosed with fibroadenoma in her left breast. 

For one Grambling State University student, the possibility of breast cancer was nearly a reality as a small lump began to develop in her left breast.

LaTangela Bell, known for her dynamic dance moves and friendly personality, shared with her nearly 4,000 Instagram followers that she was diagnosed with fibroadenoma, which are non-cancerous lumps composed of fibrous and glandular tissue.  

“I wasn’t comfortable with everyone knowing,” said the 21-year-old native of Shreveport. But shortly after her Oct. 13 diagnosis, she realized that “it would be crazy for me not tell me story.”

Bell said she wants to bring awareness to self-breast checks and encourages others who have any problems to visit a doctor immediately.

Dr. Joia Crear-Perry, an OB-GYN in New Orleans, agreed that people should not ignore the warning signs of breast cancer, especially dark-skinned people.

“People with breast lumps are more likely to get breast cancer,” said Dr. Crear-Perry. However, that doesn’t mean every lump is breast caner, and there is no connection between breast cancer and fibrous adenoma. 

Dr. Crear-Perry suggested that anyone with a lump get checked by a physician and soon as possible to determine if it is cancerous.

In Bell’s case, it took nearly two years for her lump to be properly diagnosed due to her lack of insurance and money to consult a specialist.

On Oct. 10, Bell visited Christus Schumpert Medical Center in Shreveport and they referred her to a breast care specialist, Dr. Julie Mook.

After examining her breast, Dr. Mook detected that Bell had fibroadenoma, and said the lump needed to be removed immediately.

The lump removal procedure cost $5,000 without insurance. Dr. Mook worked with colleagues and pushed it down to $2,500.

That’s where the idea to reach out to family and friends via social media stimulated from— a suggestion Bell initially was against.

Bell’s godmother Joy Thomas thought creating a gofundme account, a personal crowd-funding website, would bring awareness to her story as well as help with the financial burden of the surgery.

“As soon as I reach the goal, I can make my appointment,” said Bell.

Bell and Thomas said they plan to keep family, friends and supporters updated along the journey.  

Bell said she has been very moved by the generosity and well-wishes from friends, family and even strangers. In three days, they have raised $940 through contributions from 42 people.

Bell explained she uses dancing to cope with the pain, that started from the lump but has moved up to her neck and down her rib.  

“Dancing is her escape… her escape from the pain,” said Thomas.

Bell said she sleeps every night with a heating pad, and often misses classes.  Although she is withdrawing from GSU this semester, she is determined to finish her education and continue dancing and inspiring other.

“(Bell) is very optimistic,” said Ginia Smith, a close friend and Grambling State University student. “She hasn’t let her condition stop her from doing what she loves.”


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