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Shay's Story

Author Shay Gipson holding her book, Balloons to Heaven, and a bunch of helium balloons.

Shay’s Story:

For the past two years, I ignored a serious medical condition. When I look back, I realize I made a decision most of us have done at some point during a doctor’s visit -- in spite of what my inner voice was telling me, I rationalized that if the doctor doesn’t believe this is big concern, why should I?

In 2015, I was told there was a mass in my right breast, and of course I was upset. The doctors told me not to worry about it and come back in 6 months. I returned in 6 months and received the same advice. When I said I was not okay with having a mass in my breast and wanted it biopsied, I was told it was too expensive, and I shouldn't worry because “you’re fine.”

For two years I was unsure what to do. I was in a constant state of anguish wondering whether or not the mass in my breast was cancer. I tried not to think about it, but it was always lingering in my mind.

Then a close friend who was recently diagnosed with cancer encouraged me to not push this aside anymore. While I took her advice seriously, the universe was trying to send me an even stronger message. Shortly after this conversation, I was in a Reiki session (a Japanese relaxation and healing technique) and my practitioner, who knew nothing about the mass, told me: “you have a mass in your right breast and you need to get it out now.”

One week later, I got a mammogram and an ultrasound and discovered I now had two masses in my right breast. To my surprise, I got the same response that I received in 2015: "you are fine, we'll just monitor you for another 6 months.”

To the doctor’s surprise my response this time was very different -- I told her I wanted the masses out of my body NOW.

In February of this year I had a double lumpectomy in my right breast. Fortunately both masses were benign. Most important, I can finally put my mind and body to rest knowing that they are out of my body.

What did I learn? We have to stay vigilant and be a strong advocate for our own health -- ALWAYS! Doctors do their best working under a very complicated healthcare system, but we know our bodies better than anyone else and need to trust our instincts and inner voices.

I'm sharing my story to encourage other women facing similar situations to speak up and fight for their own health and peace of mind. As a single mom, I know how it feels to be deterred by the cost of healthcare, but I knew I couldn’t keep living with the anguish of not knowing, always wondering and waiting. As it turned out, the doctor was right; I was “fine.” However I wasn't fine, I didn't feel right and my body was sending me a different message. Now I have something that's invaluable -- true peace of mind knowing that the two masses are gone without having a chance of becoming cancerous.

So, live life to the fullest! And please listen to your body, you know it better than anyone else, and insist on the best care and health for you and your loved ones.

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