Trust your intuition. Question everything. Be your own advocate. Pledge a Donation.
At the age of 19, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a disease which years later still only has a 10% survival rate. That revelation subsequently lead to two surgeries (a distal pancreatectomy and partial gastric bypass), a blood transfusion, 25-pound weight loss and deep, emotional turmoil.
I first suspected something was alarmingly wrong when I began experiencing severe lower back pain and a constant, throbbing in my right side. The throbbing felt like a swift kick; almost like someone was continuously punching me in the ribcage. At first, the pain would only occur when I would stand for long periods of time, and then it decreased to shorter stints. Soon, even standing in line at the grocery store became painful.
The full story of my cancer diagnosis, treatment, recovery and redemption was written (and shared) beautifully by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network — whom I now work with — but essentially, the most important aspect of my experience was HOW I was diagnosed.
After my first doctor's visit, I instinctively knew that it was more serious than what my doctor (at the time) encouraged me to believe. I requested an MRI soon afterwards, but was denied due to my young age. However, six months later, after repeated doctors’ visits, requests for more tests and pushing hard for real answers, I angrily put my foot down. I demanded an MRI, and when my doctor called to give me the results, all she said was: "Turns out, there was something wrong with you."
Now, I am using my voice and my experience to educate, motivate and inspire others — especially women and communities of color — to be their own advocates, and take responsibility and control over their lives (and their health). Although my particular passion will always be working with those affected by cancer (and especially pancreatic cancer), I am driven to promote an overall health consciousness — whether it's mental health, pregnancy and motherhood, or other types of diseases.
If you would like to get in touch with me regarding interview, public speaking or other advocacy-related endeavors regarding cancer or health advocacy, please email me at Bella@MissBellaGrahamConsulting.com.
On May 2, 2020, I’ll be participating in PurpleStride, the walk to end pancreatic cancer, and I'd love if you would join me! Please help me rewrite the future of this disease by making a donation today!
(The above screenshot is NOT an accurate, up-to-date reflection of my fundraising efforts for 2020. Please help me meet my goal!)
Let's fight this disease together! Pledge and join me!As I mentioned above, I'm working with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanAN), and every year we host a walk to help end pancreatic cancer! I'll be walking as a survivor, and to honor those who lost (and those who are fighting against) the disease.