Funny woman Wanda Sykes started off working for the government, the National Security Administration in fact. Yes, the NSA. But when she came to a crossroads, she had to make a decision. That decision paid off and landed her working as a writer on The Chris Rock Show, for which she won a Primetime Emmy Award in 1999. In 2004, Sykes was named as one of the 25 funniest people in America. She also received critical acclaim for her role on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm.
But when another crossroads came up in her life, this time dealing with her health, Sykes had another decision to make. So on a Ellen DeGeneres show taping, Wanda Sykes made a shocking confession:
“I had breast cancer. Yeah, I know it’s scary.”
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Sykes admitted that while lab work was being performed after her breast reduction in February 2011 (“I had real big boobs and I just got tired of knocking over stuff,” Sykes joked), doctors discovered she had DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ), a stage zero cancer, in her left breast.
The National Cancer Institute describes DCIS as a collection of abnormal cells inside the lining of a breast duct. “Many doctors don’t consider DCIS to be cancer,” according to this explainer, and some women would suffer no harm from it if left untreated. But in other cases, DCIS progresses and becomes invasive breast cancer – the dangerous kind. The problem is that there’s no way to predict which cases of DCIS are harmless and which will become life-threatening. However, experts agree that when caught at this early stage, the prognosis for women is “excellent.”
Because she has a long history of cancer on her mother’s side of the family, Sykes opted to have a bilateral, or double, mastectomy.
“I was very, very lucky,” Sykes said. “I had the choice of, you can go back every three months and get it checked. Have a mammogram, MRI every three months just to see what it’s doing. But I’m not good at keeping on top of stuff. I’m sure I’m overdue for an oil change and a teeth cleaning already. I have a lot of breast cancer history on my mother’s side of the family, which I didn’t know about. Do you…
Wanda Sykes: “I Chose A Double Mastectomy” was originally published on blackdoctor.org