In 1997, at age 50, Atlanta’s Channel 2 well-known and respected Action News Nightbeat anchor, Monica Kaufman, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She handled her cancer journey much like her career: being positive, doing research, asking questions, and generously sharing her story with others.
Her diagnosis was DCIS or Ductal Carcinoma in Sutu. Thanks to her conscientiously doing breast self-exams since she was 35-years-old, she quickly picked up on what the medical professionals described as a calcium deposit. The biopsy reported that the cancer was very small, at a very early stage, and had not spread.
Like a veteran reporter, she did extensive research and walked into the doctor’s office with a list of questions, asking about new treatment options and social issues. She partnered with her oncologist in deciding to forego radiation and chemotherapy after surgery. (Though she had already gotten a cute short haircut, just in case.)
Likening it to a broken car, she got it fixed, and went on with her life.
Monica had great support along the way from her Girl’s Group, who had all been through breast cancer with their friend, and revived the “Boob Party.” Their gifts of friendship included calls, cards, meals, help with watching kids, doing laundry, grocery shopping and even offering a vacation home. But, perhaps her favorite was a 3 Stooges Video that gave the gift of laughter.
She never cried, even when others around her did, including her daughter and her mother. “I had to teach them how to talk to me; I told them I needed positive people, positive information and laughter around me. I told people if they didn’t know what to say, just give me a hug.”
Her strong faith drove her to reflect on the lessons to learn from her journey; her decision to share her story proved to be “the best thing I ever did.” The cards and letters poured into the TV station from women who were motivated to get a mammogram. Several had found that they, too, had breast cancer, but had caught it early enough to be treated and survive. She was also motivated to take better care of herself. “African-American women typically take care of everyone else, and put ourselves last.” She started exercising, eating right, and working less, making herself a priority.
That positive attitude stuck with her 18 years later, in 2015, when Monica Kaufman Pearson was diagnosed with primary liver cancer, likely unrelated to the breast cancer. She faced cancer a second time with the same positive attitude and reflection on life. “You sit down and say what’s really most important to you where you are in life, and make your priority to do the things you really love.”
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