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Reverse the Curse

July 17, 2023

Reverse the Curse

by Sheila Adams Gardner

I have long suspected that genetics were behind the half-dozen cancer-related deaths in my family. Nevertheless, I was shocked when my genetic test results revealed that I carry a wayward gene that puts me at high risk for ovarian cancer and elevated risk for breast cancer. My oldest sister Patricia had received the same results two months prior and immediately began prophylactic treatments. After the icicles of shock melted from my brain, I gathered the encouraging words I used to support my sister and anointed myself with them. I was glad to have my lifelong confidant traveling the journey with me, but the feeling of being “cursed” repeatedly crept into my consciousness. Especially when our middle sister Jacinta subsequently learned that she too carried the genetic mutation. We’ve weathered a lot of storms together, including caring for our mother, who chose hospice in her home during her short battle with liver cancer of “unknown origin.” To do nothing to protect ourselves from cancer was never an option.

I learned the term “Previvor” from the FORCE message boards. It gave me an instant sense of belonging as I wandered through the maze of available healthcare choices. The FORCE resources reminded me that I was not alone.

I created Reverse the Curse: A Coloring Book and Journal for Women Fighting Hereditary Cancer during the stressful month-long wait between receiving my test results and my appointments with doctors. Creating designs of beautiful and strong Previvors strengthened me. When I felt overwhelmed with seemingly endless options to consider, I soothed my mind by adding messages to the designs that encouraged me. I reminded myself that knowledge of my gene mutation is an incredible gift—one that my mother and other cancer-stricken relatives did not have. I am now only a third of the way through my prophylactic treatments. Reverse the Curse continues to help me process the bodily changes that have occurred and will occur over the next several months.

I self-published Reverse the Curse on Amazon as a surprise gift to my sisters. All three of us are at different points in our Previvor journeys. I sent the coloring book/journal to each of them, along with a pack of colored pencils. I wanted them to also feel uplifted whenever fear or doubt encroached on the peaceful spaces of their minds.

I am so grateful to my sister Patricia for bravely insisting on genetic testing for cancer. Her courage was the catalyst for reversing the curse for ourselves, our children, grandchildren and generations to come.

Posted in: Books And Movies , Stories , Previvor
Tags: Hereditary Cancer , Women Of Color


July 24, 2023

JoAnne Gutliph says:
Thanks for sharing. You and your sisters are all strong, beautiful women.


August 1, 2023

Tanesha Willis says:
You have and always will be my SHERO! Forever educating, uplifting, and inspiring.


September 6, 2023

Sylvia Johnson says:
Thank you for sharing!


August 21, 2023

Caren Bush says:
Your family journey has been close to my heart. The loss of my Mom to ovarian cancer and your story helps me to see I must control my situation and not respond to it after it had happened. Thank you so much!


September 6, 2023

Denice Welch says:
Im so proud of you and your sisters ❤️ thank you so much for sharing your story. I have the hereditary gene BRCA 1 and stage 3 ovarian cancer my passion now is to help women get ahead of cancer and in sharing our stories is so important!!


August 23, 2023

Dinah Gail Gant says:
You all truly carry other amazing traits of your Mom - strength, grace, compassion, dignity, etc.


July 19, 2023

Katherine Sartin says:
Wow little niece your courage and willingness to fight armed with knowledge and personal transparency is amazing!!! Keep up the good work. I am in awe how you and your sisters carried the torch for change while other shy away (I'm guilty) I'm so proud of you and my Sister your Mom and Grandma Madear would be too.


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