By now, surely you have a bit of empathy for Kenya Moore.
The fortysomething reality star of Bravo’s hit series Real Housewives of Atlanta was featured on the show this weekend for a breast cancer scare. She says all of what she went through was real and was a scary moment to have to go through—she has some advice for other EBONY.com readers who may be enduring the same thing.
EBONY: What made you decide to showcase the breast cancer scare on the show?
Kenya Moore: Ultimately, I knew that it would help people. I made a huge mistake when I first found out about my lump. I went and got checked out from my doctor’s orders and had my mammogram, but I had such a horrible experience that I didn’t come back for the results. I just got scared. I was by myself and I didn’t tell anyone. I kept it all to myself. I never told my aunt, I never told my boyfriend, I never told my cousins, my best friend. I didn’t tell anybody.
I just went through it by myself, so finally I was talking to my aunt and I guess she knows me better than anybody. She could kind of tell that something was going on. I finally opened up and told her that the doctor found some lumps and I was ordered to get the biopsy and I didn’t go through with it.
So she found an amazing doctor for me and basically assured me that no matter what the results would be, the news would be that we would get better faster. So having that reassurance gave me the courage to go through it.
Now when I did it on camera, it was because ultimately it’s going to save peoples’ lives. I wanted it to be authentic: I didn’t get the results before I did it on camera, so when my doctor told me what the news was, it was the first time I heard it, because I wanted the viewer to know what it’s like to actually go through it and know that it’s OK. That no matter what, it’s going to be OK. You just need to get early detection and early treatment because that’s what’s going to save lives.
EBONY: We’re told that we should start getting mammograms at 40. You’re 41. Was that your first mammogram?
KM: It was my second mammogram since I was 41, but the lump was not found from my mammogram, it was found from my doctor’s examination. Even when I went back to get the mammogram, they still couldn’t see it, and then I had to do an ultrasound, and that when they found two. I had to go back again when I saw my new doctor and went over the same process all over again, and they actually found three lumps. It was pretty scary. I’m not going to lie to you. I started to think: “OK, what if I have to get chemo?” I started thinking about all the what ifs. I had never been in a position where I had to do that before.
EBONY: Did you get a clean bill of health?
KM: I’m OK. Yes I am, they did not find cancer. But what she did tell me is, because the lumps are present, I have to get checked every six months because it could develop in those lumps. So we just have to keep an eye on it. The other thing that I thought was kind of interesting about the whole ordeal is that they put markers in for whenever I get X-rayed or have a mammogram. They can see the markers that my doctor put inside, and they’re permanent, so they know that those lumps have been biopsied.
EBONY: What advice would you give to women?
KM: My advice would be to find the best possible doctor. Go get checked if you have any kinds of breast cancer in your family. Don’t wait until you’re 40, maybe go at 35. Do the self-examination. Because mine was detectable from the mammogram, you could feel the actual lump. I didn’t take it seriously, so I’m not what to do. This process taught me that was the wrong course of action.
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EBONY Entertainment Editor