Deandreia Shares How Her High School Diagnosis Was Not A Death Sentence
By Bridgett Bradley and Bri Stephens
When we first spoke with Deandreia in 2016 he was a twenty-three year old recent college graduate. Today she is the owner of Velvet Noir Beard Co. in San Antonio, TX. She was diagnosed with breast cancer as a High School Senior. At seven years cancer-free, Deandre tells us what surviving has done for her life.
What has molded you into the person you are today?
My upbringing, my parents, my faith, my life experiences. Really any and everything I’ve encountered and endured thus far in my 23 years has shaped me into the young woman I am today.
Were there any obstacles that you’ve faced, and/ or any insecurities you’ve overcome?
I would definitely say my biggest obstacle I have faced thus far would be my cancer diagnosis. I was a senior in high school and I didn’t know any other person who was going through what I went through at the time so I was super guarded about the whole situation. I didn’t tell anyone until almost a year out post op.
How has previously having breast cancer changed your life?
It definitely gave me a better perspective on life. Not saying before cancer, I didn’t value it but it made me more aware. I definitely gained a stronger connection in my faith with God too and it showed me how strong of a woman I am. I refused to let cancer bring me down and it didn’t. I’m 7 years cancer free and I hope and pray I stay cancer free. I’m a fighter.
As an advocate, how are you helping? How would you like others to help?
Every year since 2011, I have made it a personal mission of mine to do some type of advocacy in the city of San Antonio. In 2011, I was the cover story for a Texas wide college magazine called “Study Breaks”, I’ve spoken at multiple breast cancer events at my Alumni UTSA. I’ve spoken at The University of Incarnate Word here in San Antonio, I’ve even traveled to Texas State to speak at their breast cancer event.
Also, for the past 3 years myself and one of my friends (who is also a breast cancer survivor) have thrown an annual event called “Breast Friends Forever” at UTSA. It teaches young women about breast cancer and breast health so they’ll know the warning signs. We also had a Pink-out Day last year on campus where we released pink balloons in honor of those who lost the battle to cancer. I was also interviewed by Susan G. Komen in 2014 for “SA Women’s Magazine”, so I do quite a lot for breast cancer advocacy.
I would like for others to help first by getting educated on BC. A lot of young women think BC is diagnosed in older women and with newer research that’s not the case. The diagnosis age gets younger every year. And I’d definitely recommend doing volunteer work with nonprofits for cancer. You can learn a lot by doing that and it’s a good feeling when you can help others.
What are your plans and goals?
In the future I definitely want to start my own nonprofit or mentor group for young African American women in high school and college just to educate them on breast cancer and breast health because when I was diagnosed my senior year in HS I didn’t know half of the information I know now regarding BC and honestly, it’s not taught in schools.
How important was graduation for you?
Graduation was super important for me. College was NOT a cake-walk for me at all. I struggled my first two years in school just trying to adapt to the curriculum and study tactics. There were plenty of times where I literally wanted to drop out and quit school for good but I had to reevaluate somethings within myself and I stuck with it. And graduation was the icing on the cake especially since I’m the second person in my immediate family to finish.
Lastly, what do you want the audience to remember?
I definitely want people to know that my cancer diagnosis does not define me as a person. Some survivors have a tendency to feel like once you’ve been diagnosed that’s all you’ll be known for. I’m more than that. I’m a college graduate, I’m into the arts, I love the outdoors, I’m studying to get my operating room technician license, I love to laugh and be happy. I am just an all-around optimistic young woman trying to make it by any means. And lastly, I’m an unapologetic, carefree black woman *zsnaps*