Woman diagnosed with breast cancer: ‘I can’t die right now. I have to take care of my son’

Posted at 8:00 PM, Sep 30, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-30 21:35:40-04

Laqueta Powell is a 36-year-old woman who loves being a mom more than anything.

"He was my inspiration, and my son loves me unconditionally,” says Powell.

But there are conditions in Laqueta's life, that threatened to interrupt her future with little Bryce, a future impacted by the past.

Her mother died of breast cancer at age 47; Laqueta was only 9-years-old at the time.

"I knew why she died; I didn't know the details,” says Powell.

As she grew into a woman, the details became important, especially when her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"It was scary not knowing when this could happen or if it was going to happen,” says Powell.

Her doctors advised her to begin annual screenings, much earlier than the recommended age of 40, considering her family history.

"My OBGYN, he gave me a script in October to go get a baseline mammogram. I'm a procrastinator, I didn't go. I waited until April,” says Powell.

The screening detected an abnormality and a biopsy was ordered. Laqueta waited nervously for the results in an examination room.

“I overheard them talking outside, and I could hear the doctor say, ‘So she doesn't know yet,’” says Powell.

When the doctor walked into the exam room, her worst fears were realized when he began to speak.

"Unfortunately, I don't have good news for you today. You have breast cancer,” Powell says the doctor told her. “I heard nothing else. I was hysterical.”

Her thoughts turned to her son Bryce.

“I can't die right now. I have to take care of my son,” Powell says.

Sadness turned to anger, thinking back to her mother's cancer.

“I did reflect on that. I was angry because I thought she gave this to me,” Powell says.

Laqueta and her sister were tested for the BRCA gene - the gene that passes cancer from one generation to the next.

The test was negative for both siblings. But once her chemo treatments are over, she's decided to take steps to eliminate future breast cancer risk.

"We decided collaboratively with my physicians to go with the bilateral mastectomy because of the possibility of this recurring,” says Powell.

Thinking back, she offers this advice to women who hesitate to get a breast cancer screening:

“Get checked- get the mammogram done every year. It is so important. It will save your life, it saved my life,” Powell advises.

Tomorrow afternoon beginning at 4, we have partnered with the Chesapeake Regional Medical Center to provide free breast screenings for women who cannot afford them.

Don't let fear stand in the way of getting the care you need, the life you save may be your own.