By ALESHA CADET
Tribune Features Reporter
FOR 28-year-old breast cancer survivor Zitalia Fox, the journey was not an easy one.
“I was diagnosed at the age of 22, in 2015, with stage three invasive breast cancer," she said. "I’m 28 years of age and I’m a double mastectomy. I’ve always been asked if I will ever get breast implants and my question will always be no, I’m comfortable the way I am,” said Zitalia.
She said going through breast cancer has indeed affected her life daily, but she believes it is more in a positive way than negative. Zitalia said she looks at life as a blessing, and while she may have challenges, she doesn’t let them keep her down for long.
She said: “I am pushing, because failure isn’t an option. My thoughts and feedback on what I have learned on my journey thus far is to have a strong support system, even if it’s just one friend or family member. Talk, never keep things a secret. Always ask questions when you’re unsure of something. "At the end of the day, it’s your life and you have to take control and live it to the best of your ability. Cancer isn’t a death sentence.
"I would also say try to eat something healthy, change your diet, drink more water and exercise, get check ups frequently, as early detection is good. And most importantly, live life to the fullest."
She is keeping herself motivated and focused by reflecting on things that is often needed to get done on her to-do lists; starting with whatever little she could, until reaching her goal.
Zitalia said listening to uplifting music also helps her get through. Most importantly, her support system of friends and family are important in her life, as they always encourage her to keep pushing and never give up.
"I enjoy doing things like reading, watching Harry Potter movies and just the simple things in life.
“I love watching action-packed movies, thrillers, sci-fi movies, and again, anything Harry Potter related. I also enjoy going to the beach for a good swim. Besides sleeping, I enjoy watching nail tutorials and learning new stuff, because I’m a certified nail tech. My boyfriend also kept me grounded, as we would talk and enjoy watching movies together. I usually post on my social media pages about the awareness of breast cancer.
"And I also would talk about my journey, along with my mom and aunt’s journey. Both my mom and aunt passed away on August 31, 2020, from cancer. They both fought side by side for 14 years. It’s really tough not having them by my side because they were with me every step of the way during my journey. Please keep me and my family in your prayers because it’s rough at the moment. Also I’m always giving advice to my friends on how to examine themselves or if they feel it’s serious, seek medical attention as soon as possible,” said Zitalia.
She said it is a great joy to be part of awareness organisations like the GD Cancer Caring and Sharing Cancer Support Group. Through the group, she has gained a few sisters, whom she can always call up on at any time.
“Being a part of the GD group has brought awareness to young females like myself. Cancer doesn’t have an age, it can affect anyone, no matter how young or old you are. It was also a privilege to have known Mrs Genie Dean, she was the one who introduced me to the group.
"As young as I was at the age of 22, I never once dreamed I would’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer and to make a difficult decision to remove both breasts at a young age of 22 at that. Young ladies, please be aware of your body and examine yourself frequently. Ask questions and do check ups frequently. Preventive is better than cure."
Zitalia added that it had been a struggle at times to live a healthier lifestyle. She said: "I know a change of diet is hard, even for me, I’m not the healthiest person. But try incorporate fruits and vegetables in your meals every day. Drinking lots of water and exercising is good. Even if it’s 20 mins, three times per week, find an exercising routine or the time to exercise. Lots of sleep is important too."