BREAST cancer survivor Kaydia Levien McKoy, who heads the foundation Heads Up For Pink, and who is giving back to survivors through Pink In June, has released her first book, Courage In Bloom — A Daughter's Love, A Mother's Victory: Conquering Breast Cancer Together.
"...Because it took strength, resilience, and growth in the face of adversity," McKoy told All Woman about the title, which captures the idea of "bravery and inner strength blossoming despite challenging circumstances and hope for those fighting the disease".
Added McKoy: "Conquering breast cancer together with my daughter adds depth to my story, highlighting the bond between my daughter Savannah and myself, a journey shared of overcoming breast cancer. It's a message of love, support and triumph in the face of a difficult battle."
She said while we can't choose what life throws at us, she is spurred by obstacles. "This book is in-depth with real pictures; it takes readers on the journey...the pain, the feeling of sadness, fear and hopelessness when being diagnosed and also how your partner deals with it," McKoy said. "It's packed with information and encouragement to other women who are fighting and those who are in fear...it's a daily reminder that early detection is the key."
The book is available on Amazon in e-book and paperback format, and in stores locally as of October 8 — The Life Store, Golden Grocery, Champion Battery, Woman's Place, Fontana, and My Cancer Essentials.
Just this June McKoy launched Pink In June, an event to spread awareness, even while recognising that a lot of women fighting cancer or other illnesses, which impede them from providing basic needs, are not able to provide for their families. Two women received $170,000 raised after expenses.
McKoy was 30 years old at the time she felt her lump. She waited for her upcoming birthday, but with a strong history of cancer in her family, she was referred to do a mammogram, which confirmed breast cancer. By then she had turned 31.
Her own personal struggles would guide the steps she took after diagnosis and treatment to start her foundation — "My world started moving fast, it was like a whirlwind and that's where the mental, emotional, financial and physical stress began. Imagine it was in the pandemic, no insurance and business was slow. I had to do a surgical biopsy. I'll never forget, two days before those surgeries — my daughter was four at the time — and she started playing the fight song. She asked if I was going to die. I myself was uncertain, but I had to muscle up for her," she shared.
As for life after cancer: "I am in menopause but I'm only 33 years old," she told All Woman last October. "Things are happening to my body that I don't fully understand and I'm thinking of the what-ifs. It's like I'm not sure if it's OK to have a tummy ache or a headache. My daughter constantly talks about breast cancer. She puts herself on a diet, with limited processed foods and no sweets. She draws breast cancer ribbons all the time, every day for me. She watches what I eat. She asks to see the keepsake box I made for her — I made it for her explaining life before and after cancer. That's the uncertainty I was in that I made her that box and wrote down all passwords".
Today, in survivorship, McKoy commits to help women who are fighting breast cancer through Heads Up For Pink, where several women benefited from beauty care, gift certificates and wigs in 2021.
Last year she had her breast cancer drive, distributing breast cancer souvenirs and pamphlets to remind women to self-check and to also get their mammograms done.
"I want women to be educated and to spread awareness," she said. "We have to be our sisters' keeper and I'm very dedicated with that while striking a balance with my business, my daughter, and my family and also doing what I love. My coping mechanism is keeping my mind occupied, like helping people and going places and just living a happy life and to have gratitude."