WATTERS: Chelita O’Neal is an admirable breast cancer survivor… this is HER story

Chelita O’Neal

Cyra Watters is a  sophomore mass communications from Chicago, Ill. 

On Jan. 7, 2013, Chelita O’Neal was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 34. O’Neal diagnosed herself based off the things she already knew about breast cancer. O’Neal then went to doctors and they informed her that she had to do a mammogram. 

Doctors explained to O’Neal that mammograms were not used as a testing method until the age of 40, but her situation was a special case. After all of the tests were done, the doctor, notified O’Neal, letting her know that she had stage two breast cancer.

O’Neal first thought was that she was going to die. At the moment O’Neal realized that she didn’t know as much information about breast Cancer as she thought. The only thing she knew was that her aunt had cancer and she passed away from it. O’Neal went so long thinking that cancer was hereditary but really women between 30 to 70 can be diagnosed with Breast Cancer.

O’Neal wasn’t fully aware of what breast cancer was until she had her own experience. Throughout her journey, she learned a lot of information, including that there is cure, Breast Cancer walks can bring awareness and raise money and the effects of breast cancer on women. 

Every year O’Neal and her family participant in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. O’Neal says that her journey opened up her eyes and made her more aware of Breast Cancer. She also realized the importance of knowing your body and being aware of when something looks abnormal. 

After interviewing O’Neal, she shared a few things that I wasn’t aware of. O’Neal explained that African American women die faster than white women who have breast cancer. After hearing this, this inspired me to do my own research about breast cancer. 

I was able to learn that rates of breast cancer in black and white women are about the same, black women are 20% to 40% more likely to die from breast cancer. The reason for this disparity is likely due to several factors, including genetics, the biology of the cancer, and differences in healthcare. I also learned that men can also have breast cancer the lifetime risk for U.S. men is about 1 in 1,000.