Breast Cancer Survivor Shares Her Story; Urges Awareness

Alice Lee Norman
Alice Lee Norman

When Alice Lee Norman visited her doctor in 2007 to talk about a lump on her left breast, she wasn't sure what to expect. A week after her visit, the cyst was diagnosed as breast cancer. Norman, known to close friends and family as Miss Pam, suddenly become one of more than 249,000 people diagnosed with one of the many forms of breast cancer year. More than 41,000 women have died this year alone from breast cancer. 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign whose purpose is to encourage people, especially women, to take care of their health since early detection has been shown to be key to survival. There are lots of events throughout the country to raises awareness of breast cancer risks and the value of screenings. 

Breast cancer is the second most diagnosed disease besides skin cancer in American women. Blacks have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial/ethnic group in the US for most cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. 

"The causes of these inequalities are complex and reflect social and economic disparities more than biological differences," the society states in a report titled. "Cancer Figures and Facts for African Americans 2016-2018."

Graphic retrieved from Amanda profile on
Graphic retrieved from Amanda profile on

It defines socioeconomic disparities as inequitable access to opportunities and resources, such as work, wealth, income, education, housing, and overall standard of living, as well as barriers to high-quality medical care."

Breast cancer is more common in African American women under 45 and more likely to kill African American women than white women. Although the disease is scary and often fatal there are ways to catch the disease before it spreads and continue to live a normal life. 

Norman, who wore a huge pink cancer pin during the interview, is among the survivors. May 31 marked 10 years, she said, since that fateful day when she learned she had cancer. 

After her diagnoses, she said, she turned to officials at Halifax Oncology for help. She underwent three months of chemotherapy and the removal of her left breast where the tumor had grown to the size of a tennis ball. 

Today Norman, who is employed at the B-CU cafeteria, said she lives a normal life, cancer free, and hopes that fewer people will have to suffer from the disease. She advises everyone to perform lump checks on their breast and to always take them serious. She also encourages women to schedule a yearly mammogram. 

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By Stephanie Owens