Busta’s Survivors of the Week: Love is the best medicine

Breast cancer survivors Yvonne Wiley, her daughter, Lashaunda Martin, with Wiley’s sisters, Joann Agnew and Helen Mitchell.

Busta’s Survivors of the Week: Love is the best medicine
October 31
02:00 2019

By Busta Brown

“My body was feeling some type of way and I knew deep down inside I had it,” said 46-year-old Lashaunda Martin. It is something her mother Yvonne Wiley, aunts Joann Agnew and Helen Mitchell, and cousin Dwanna Agnew don’t have. It is breast cancer. 

“My doctor began treating me for acid reflux, but I knew it wasn’t that. I couldn’t explain the feeling, but I was always tired and I never felt good,” Lashaunda said. She knew in her heart that it was cancer, “but I kept it to myself, and I decided to prepare myself for the fight.” 

A week after her second doctor’s visit, her mom, Yvonne, aunts, Helen and Joann, and cousin Dwanna, all participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Winston-Salem. Dwanna suggested that she and Lashaunda get a breast exam. “We went to a booth that was doing free mammograms. And by me being the oldest daughter, I just knew I was going to have it, because my mother had it twice,” said Dwanna. The key word is HAD. Her mother, Joann Agnew, and aunts are all breast cancer survivors. 

Joann is a 23-year stage 2 survivor. She had a double mastectomy and chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Her aunt Helen is a 20-year stage 2 survivor. She had a single mastectomy, with chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Aunt Yvonne is a 10-year stage 0 survivor. She had a lumpectomy and 33 radiation treatments. “So when I saw that booth, Lashaunda and I had to get checked,” said Dwanna. 

Dwanna and Lashaunda received their mammogram results from the booth. “Hers were positive, but mine were negative. But I took her results as if it was me, because we’re family. That following week, all five of us went to the doctor’s office together when she received her diagnosis,” said Dwanna.  

Lashaunda added, “I was already prepared, because I’ve seen my mom and aunts beat it, so I knew I would as well.” She’s now a six-year stage 0 breast cancer survivor. “It’s not a day I don’t think about it coming back. But with the support we give each other, it keeps my faith strong.” 

I also spoke with Dwanna’s mother, Joann, who said, “When I was first diagnosed in 1997, I knew I was going to die. So I prepared a will, the clothes for my funeral and an obituary. I also closed my nail boutique. But the love and support from my daughter and family gave me the will to live. And I wanted to see my grandchildren grow up. So, when the cancer came back in 2004, it was easy to keep my faith, stay strong and fight it. And I won!”  

Although she no longer has the nail boutique, her passion is still there. “I volunteer doing nails for cancer patients at the Derrick L. Davis Cancer Center for Feel Good Fridays. It’s every first Friday. I love it!” said Joann.  

Agnew, her daughter Dwanna, sisters Helen and Yvonne, and her daughter Lashaunda, all participate in the different cancer awareness fundraisers in Winston-Salem. These phenomenal super women go out in the community sharing their testimonies as well.

“During my mom’s battle with breast cancer, I didn’t allow her to feel sorry for herself. I encouraged her to do the things she was able to do on her own. That tough love helped her fight and built her confidence. And then she did the same for her sisters and my cousin,” said Dwanna.  

Lashaunda added, “When you have the love and support that we give each other, quitting is never an option. We all knew that we would beat cancer,” she continued. “Whenever your body isn’t feeling right, please get checked immediately. My diagnosis was stage 0, so getting checked early saved my life.” 

Recently, the ladies decided to do a genealogy test and results were mind blowing. “It said that it doesn’t run in our family. That’s really strange, but the doctor believes it’s just a crazy coincidence,” said Lashaunda. 

She shares her journey on social media to encourage younger women not to be afraid of getting a mammogram. “Because it saves lives, like it did for me.” 

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