Two months before her wedding, and only a day before her 30th birthday, Sharonda Vincent gave herself a breast exam in the shower. "For some reason," Vincent said, "I just decided to do one. I never had done one before."
She found a lump on her left breast.
Several tests and a painful biopsy later, it was confirmed she had breast cancer. And it was her new husband, who tried to alleviate the blow of the news with an impromptu work lunch‚ who had to tell her. "I immediately started crying," she said.
But Vincent wasn't upset for long. She prayed for support. And after that, she said, "it was a walk in the park." Lucky gal.
She got married during the "emotional rollercoaster" in 2005 and, only three weeks after her wedding, had surgery and started chemotherapy and radiation. The surgery and tests were successful: She was cancer-free.
But the aggressive approach doctors took didn't leave her unscathed.
"It was a time I should have been enjoying my life," she said. "I was dealing with something older women deal with."
During treatment, she had a solid support system. That included her then 5-year-old son, who told her he wanted to talk to her doctors because they were making her sick.
"My family was really great," she said, especially her husband, twin sister, aunt and mother.
Her grandmother was also battling breast cancer at the time. They leaned on each other for support.
Sunday marks the annual Race for the Cure, the Susan G. Komen event, on Mother's Day. This is Vincent's fourth year in the race.
"My biggest call is to the fundraising," she said. "We need all the funds we can to help find a cure."
Vincent also noted that a lot of women can't afford mammograms.
"One of my goals in life is with every woman that I encounter, if I have the opportunity," Vincent said, "I stress doing self examinations. Any chance I get, I love to tell my story. It could change the life of someone else."