Berniece’s Story of Bravery, Strength, and Faith

An International Women’s Day Inspiration

While Berniece has learned to listen to her body, she has also learned not to be defined by her body: “When you understand that breasts and hair don’t define you as a person, it becomes easier to demand different things out of your relationships and life.”

Her story of strength and faith in both herself and others highlights the hallmarks of International Women’s Day, which celebrates the achievements and power of women worldwide. This year’s theme is “Choose to Challenge.” While Berniece may not have chosen this challenge, she did choose how to respond to it.

Looking for the silver linings

Berniece—a mother of six kids—was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 38. Her mother was the first person she told. “She would talk to me in a slow, stern but gentle voice and remind me of how strong I was, and had to be, in order to beat cancer,” she said. “I needed to survive no matter what.”

She made the difficult decision to have a double mastectomy and promised she would never sugarcoat chemotherapy—she cried every day she had it and also struggled with “chemo brain.” Berniece turned to her family and faith on the good and bad days. “Breast cancer has strengthened and challenged me to be my best self,” she said.

Today, Berniece is working towards a degree in Human Services and enjoys spending free time with seniors and kids alike because life is “about touching as many people as you can with kindness and love.”

For women going through treatment, Berniece offers the following three pieces of advice:

  1. Now is not the time to neglect yourself – take time to focus on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
  2. Stop worrying that every ache and pain is a sign of cancer. Stay positive in the face of fear.
  3. Make plans to celebrate your survivorship: Pray and keep the faith!

Every step of the way

It’s been 7 years since Berniece’s diagnosis. “This experience has taught me to love hard, to go over and beyond for others. I want people to know that breast cancer is not a death sentence. Yes, it is scary, and you will be scared at first, but prayer changes things,” she said. “Be bold and face it and know that you can win with the hope of survival, strong family support, a great patient navigator, and—most of all—faith.”

She also encourages breast cancer patients to plan ahead, envisioning yourself alive and well in the season to come: “Buy those nice winter red boots that you know you’ll look good in.  Buy a summer wardrobe in the winter. It is important to get up and get dressed, get fabulous, and live your best life!”

National Breast Cancer Foundation remains firmly committed to Helping Women Now and ensuring that no one navigates breast cancer alone. NBCF provided a patient navigator for Berniece, who helped and supported her every step of the way.

“I met my patient navigator, Evelyn on my first visit. We talked, we laughed and I cried—to talk to someone who was really listening was something I really needed.”

“We encourage you to unite with NBCF on International Women’s Day as we celebrate every woman: for all that the women in your life do and for who they are,” said Cinthia Gonzalez, Director of Education & Outreach, National Breast Cancer Foundation. “No matter what your individual journey looks like — from raising a family to pursuing dreams to focusing on your health — know that you are beautiful, strong, worthy, and loved.”

National Breast Cancer Foundation is here for you and your loved ones. Whether you need support, education, or help during treatment, we have a team dedicated to getting you the help you deserve.

21 Comments

  1. It’s not easy, but I believe that with faith, going through it will be possible. I have two friends Osamuyi and Toju by names who passed away through breast cancer. May God continue to strengthen all women going through this.

  2. This is my second time for breast cancer. Doing well but still have a way to go. My goal is to keep positive and pray every day.

    • I will pray for you Liz. My cancer head been short lived, but it was still cancer. I had a left breast mastectomy in January. I want to pray for you because God led me through with prayer and faith.

  3. I can’t even thank you enough for sharing. Everyday I put my faith out into the universe. There are times I feel alone. This journey is not always easy, but it’s stories like this that reminds us that we are beautiful humans doing our very best. Every day is different, no two days are the same. I am a six year survivor who needed to read this today. Thank you for your inspiration and love.
    Blessings
    Dawn~

    • Dawn, I would like to pray for you every day. My Bible verse going through my cancer and mastectomy was Deuteronomy 31:6-8. God goes before us and prepares the way. That’s what He did for me. Lift your head high and look to the Lord. I am still accepting what I look like with only one breast. Each day gets better.

  4. Thank you for sharing your story, I was diagnosed 1 year ago. I have completed treatment. I am just trying to get my life back in order.

    God is Great!!

    • Keisha ,
      I also wS diagnosed last year Jan 6,2020 it was a very nerve wrecking time waiting. When you go in for mammogram check ..and your right breast scan looks questionable as you leave get called back next day then they scheduled biopsy dec 20 ,2019…and my dr called looking for dr for me. Saw him Jan62020 then met the surgeon on jan82020 she explained it better . I have stage 2 aggressive ductal carcinoma. They found 3.4cm tumor.. in my strong face I said take the breast! so we decided surgery I told her I don’t work when your next opening jan132020 while in there she FINDS another tumor 3.2cm was a good call. I met oncologist feb 14202. And started chemotherapy feb24-June25. Sported a niffy bald head life . Didnt have to do radiation. My cancer is in remission. During this lonely time I had 5 abscesses towards last 3treatments and my teeth separated too. Long 6wks removal of rest of teeth. I fell Alot my left knee gave out. Total knee replacement surgery sept282020 my dr was impressed with me 6mos out and I can straighten my knee and bend it back. Tried tamoxifen but side effects too much just. Did left breast mastectomy mar22,2021had 2 lumps didnt worry . Then remove last ovary ( kept it free hormone therapy) but I just had the surgery yesterday was at hospital 10am but seen dr at 12ish.. 3 holes to remove enlarged ovary ( pcos ). And cant sleep wired ..

  5. Bernice your journey is inspiring and one of hope and trust in God. Prayer is powerful and the power of many in prayer is incredible. Liz I will keep you in prayer asking the Lord to lift you up and heal you again.

    Happy International Women’s Day. You are amazing women!

  6. Wonderful women! Glad I took a look at this. I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2017. I have had a difficult time coming to terms with my diagnosis because I had my mammograms every year and told I was CLEAR! You know, that letter they send you afterwards. Well, I was not CLEAR. I also have osteoarthritis and now need a hip replacement. Seems since the diagnosis that my pain gets worse and worse. I do pray but I need to pray more and be constant.

    • Though I do not share your diagnosis, share your faith . Faith in a God I love so deeply and knows if he allows a saw to cone I shall accept to introduce others to him. We must be advocates to obtain our mammo reports and have someone explain it to us as now I see I never really knew what was said about my breasts, especially in the wake if first an abnormal now normal report. Will ensure at my next meeting I see the new reports and my questions re answered. Never knew I had what appears to have been some architectural distortions.

  7. I needed to hear these words today “Stop worrying that every ache and pain is a sign of cancer”. It’s almost 3 years that I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

    I trust the Lord and understand he holds me tight in his arms.
    May the Lord bless you Berniece for sharing your encouragement story.

  8. Such an inspirational journey from a strong, amazing woman! Thank you for sharing your strength, courage and wisdom with the world. Continued blessings my friend.

    Love always,

    Danielle

  9. Thanks for sharing!!! The Definition of a Fighter and never giving up. And even My Grandmother that fought as long she could. The medical industry has come a long way and hopefully continues to help those that have to deal with this issue.

  10. I am honored to know Berniece personally and to have watched her look breast cancer straight in the face and tell it that she would defeat it, all while still being a single parent mother who never blinked no matter how much pain she may have been in or how drained she was from chemotherapy! I remember vividly, going to war with her spiritually and telling her that she could count on me to pray for her! She refused to play the victim but yet the Victor! She’s definitely an inspiration to me and to go back to college after all she’s been thru …. AMAZING!💪🏾❤️🙌🏾💯 You were Born to win!

  11. I’m so glad you are able to share your story. You are such an inspiration to others.
    Happy International Women’s Day!

    • One of the strongest women I know true fighter. She won’t let anything stop her. Keep being an inspiration to all of us.

  12. Happy International Women’s Day! You are an amazing friend, sister, mother & glamma (lol)! Love you and blessed to have you in my life!

  13. This story was very inspirational and gives awareness to us women today. She never gave up and has the biggest heart!

  14. One of the strongest women I know true fighter. She won’t let anything stop her. Keep being an inspiration to all of us.

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