We have to fight, we must fight, says breast cancer 'warrior'
Jheneall Barnaby, breastcancer warrior and participantin episode three of the JNGroup #PowerofPink KeepingAbreast of Your Health YouTubediscussion, held recently.

EVEN though Jheneall Barnaby is fighting breast cancer she is encouraging fellow breast cancer 'warriors' to remain positive and continue to push through the odds to beat the dreaded disease.

Barnaby was speaking at the final in a three-part series of the JN Group's #PowerofPink Keeping Abreast of Your Health YouTube discussion recently, hosted by clinical psychologist and breast cancer warrior, Kamala McWhinney.

JN Group's #PowerofPink breast cancer awareness campaign is being hosted under the theme '#Pink40 Beyond the Ribbon Keeping Abreast of Your Health', encouraging women and men to actively track their breast health when they reach age 40.

“For those who are going through it, like myself, think about what is happening now and don't think about the whole journey because if you do, it can be really crazy. Think about what you can control now and just try and find a way to go through the whole process. It is not forever and there is life after cancer — so it's just to try and find a way to go through the whole process,” she advised.

At 32 years old Barnaby was diagnosed with a type of breast cancer called invasive ductal carcinoma on April 23, 2021.

However, her journey started in 2018 when she discovered a nipple discharge in her right breast.

“At this point I was alarmed because I wasn't breastfeeding and it's not normal to have a discharge coming from your breast if you're not breastfeeding. I was just thinking that it's a breast infection that may have developed over time because in 2012 I breastfed and I remember clearly that my daughter was not interested in that right breast at all,” the mother of one explained.

She then decided to visit her gynaecologist who did some laboratory tests. However, the tests did not show anything abnormal and her gynaecologist referred her to a general surgeon, who also ran some tests on the breast, but the results were inconclusive.

“He then decided to do a lumpectomy to see if that would show a better result and the results came back to say that I have precancerous cells in the lining of my milk duct. He also said that it is stage 0 breast cancer, also known as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), but it is not invasive so it's just in my milk duct, but not in my breast tissue or lymph nodes,” she pointed out.

Barnaby said her world crashed just by hearing the word “cancer”. The doctor recommended that she do a mastectomy to get rid of it so that it didn't become invasive.

However, she pointed out that she was not in agreement with doing a mastectomy and she decided to get a second opinion from another surgeon.

That other surgeon recommended another series of tests which again showed nothing. She tested again within another six months and it was the same result.

The human resources administrator said that, at this point she started to rejoice that everything was fine and the lumpectomy had in fact fixed the issue.

“So in 2019 I was fine, 2020 I was fine; fast-forward to January 2021, now I started noticing some physical changes in that same breast. I realised that the nipple was a little bit inverted and it had a little itch and when I scratched, the skin flaked a bit. The whole breast was just firm,” she described.

Barnaby went back to her surgeon who did a mammogram and ultrasound which, again, did not show any abnormality.

Subsequently, the surgeon did a biopsy which confirmed that it was breast cancer.

“I was prescribed chemotherapy as well as surgery and I'm currently undergoing chemo. Chemo is no fun and I have to do 16 rounds over a 20-week period. So far I have completed 15, thanks be to God,” she said with a smile.

She added that the last set of chemotherapy sessions has been really rough but she continues to take it “one day at a time”. The drugs, which are introduced to her body via a port, have made her nauseous all the time, she has heartburn and she doesn't enjoy her food because she does not have any active taste buds.

Barnaby, who now sports a bald head because of hair loss from chemotherapy, said her support system was of vital importance to her.

“My husband is definitely my rock. He has been there for me from the beginning, reassuring me that I am not in this alone and no matter how I feel, I can always go to him and he is there listening. My daughter, although she is nine years old, she understands a lot so she is always rubbing my head and telling me I'm beautiful and also reassuring me that I'll get through it,” she said.

She also mentioned her sister, Basillia Barnaby Cuff, who accompanies her to every chemo treatment, her mother and mother-in-law who send inspirational messages each morning, and her co-workers who have been supportive.

“It's easier said than done that you should stay positive but you have to try and be positive through it. It's not forever and there is life after cancer — it's just for us to endure this journey right now. We will get through it. We have to fight, we must fight and we will win the battle,” she urged.

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