Breast cancer warrior, Terry-Ann Chippy, guided by hope, faith
Breast cancer changes you. For some, receiving the news alone can have devastating and crippling effects. But, in the case of individuals like Terry-Ann Chippy, facing the battle head-on activated an inner warrior, creating a healing space, one filled with strength, hope and faith.
She tells The Sunday Gleaner, “Life is a gift and we are often reminded that our time here is limited, so we really need to make what matters count. Life can change in seconds, so truly make it matter.”
Chippy vividly remembers waking up one morning from a blissful slumber, ready to take on the tasks of a new day, only to notice something different in her body. “There was a small lump in my right breast that wasn’t there before,” she explained.
At the age of 38, she brought her concerns to the doctor, and sadly, her worst fears were confirmed, “In October 2021, I was diagnosed with Stage 2A triple positive breast cancer. When I received the news, I cried all the way home from the doctor’s office. Me? Cancer, how?,” Chippy recalled the moment.
From there, her life took a dramatic turn. She underwent a nipple-sparing mastectomy which, according to Chippy, is a procedure where the breast tissue is completely removed, leaving behind the breast shell.
After the mastectomy, she received a breast implant and completed six rounds of chemotherapy, followed by 18 rounds of a hormonal therapy known as the herceptin treatment. “I also did 15 sessions of radiation therapy and had an axillary lymph node dissection,” she shared.
Recognising the importance of good health, Chippy maintained a balance by complementing her treatment with a proper diet and regular exercise. “Throughout my treatment, I managed to maintain my sense of self. While there were certainly days when I felt weak, I would still hit the gym and prepare my green juice whenever my strength allowed,” she said. Nowadays, she’s also drinking natural teas like soursop leaf, guinea hen weed, and dandelion bush.
On the professional front, the client service associate at Yello Media, who is also a realtor and a justice of the peace, made it a priority to continue working.
Her remarkable support system played a crucial role in enabling her to accomplish all of this. “My job has shown remarkable support by permitting me to work from home. My friends and family have gone above and beyond, accompanying me to doctor’s appointments, praying for me, assisting with my son, checking in with phone calls, and providing substantial financial support.”
Speaking of her son, she never realised how much certain lifestyle changes would have affected him until she was faced with no choice.
“Cutting my hair was hard for him and initially he was scared,” she said, adding that he started to Google what cancer was and the different stages. “He would often remind me what I should eat so that it does not reach the next stage.”
Now, at the age of nine, his inquisitive nature has led him to question whether the cancer has disappeared. Additionally, he didn’t shy away from sharing her diagnosis with others, fuelling his mother’s fight to recover faster.
“I remember we were at Devon House and a lady behind me said, ‘Your bald head looks so good’, and Zidan responded, ‘She has cancer.’ In my mind, I kept thinking, I have to get better,” she revealed.
The treatment was rigorous, so the moment the chapter of her illness ended, she treated herself to a night out with friends, fulfilling her long-standing desire to see the legendary Beres Hammond perform live at Reggae Sumfest.
As she awaits a positron emission tomography (PET) scan to determine whether the cancer is still present in her body, Chippy remains hopeful.
She embodies beauty, bravery and tenacity, making her one of the most inspiring individuals you will ever meet. Her determination to pay it forward shines through as she seeks to encourage and assist other women who may be facing a similar journey – whether they’ve recently discovered a breast lump, are anxiously awaiting scan results, or have just received the life-altering diagnosis of breast cancer.
“Having traversed that same path, I fully understand how daunting a diagnosis like this can be. The support I’ve received, both in the past and ongoing, has been truly incredible, and I’m deeply grateful for it. I aspire to extend any support I can to others facing similar challenges,” she mentioned.
A woman of her word, she initiates this support process by offering key recommendations to fellow breast cancer patients.
She advises those affected to stay informed, build a strong support system and maintain a healthy lifestyle.”Manage the stress, stay positive but realistic and communicate with your medical team. Everyone’s journey with breast cancer is unique. You are not alone in this fight, and there is a vast network of resources and people ready to help you through it, such as the Jamaica Reach to Recovery.”