Jessica Watkins is the owner of ShearLuxe Salon. A respite she created for many women to come in and get restored both on the inside and outside. As a stylist, she has helped to uplift women over the years and now is on her own healing journey that she did not plan for but is handling with grace. She was recently diagnosed with breast cancer right when the country was hit with a national pandemic. As she progresses towards healing, her story of resilience is one she wanted to share to help others, especially women of color. Read her own words, find a moment to lift her up in prayer and then welcome in your own gratitude for today.
What inspired you to want to share your breast cancer journey?
I choose Ubraanite to share my story because it speaks to people of color. My story is not unique in the fact that I am a woman dealing with breast cancer; it is unique because I am a woman of color battling breast cancer telling her story. When I was diagnosed I started searching for other women’s breast cancer journey to gain a sense of knowledge before my journey began. I was totally disappointed at the lack of women of color telling their stories. I then began to believe that maybe women of color are not getting cancer at the same rate of other races until my first treatment day.
My story is not unique in the fact that I am a woman dealing with breast cancer; it is unique because I am a woman of color battling breast cancer telling her story.
On my first day of chemo, I walked into the treatment room with my chemo bag packed (something I heard about from a white woman) ready for battle and walked into a room of black women being treated. I knew then it’s not that we are not being diagnosed; we are not talking about it until someone loses their battle. I decided that day that this would not be me. I will not be another woman of color not sharing her story with other women that look like me. We, meaning people of color, are more often than not diagnosed at later stages in the game, stages 2, 3, and 4. This question is why? If you asked me: fear, lack of knowledge, and medical care.
The private fight doesn’t make others aware that examination at 40 may be too late for you. I am only 41 and diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. I learned a lot during this journey so the words Stage 4 don’t scare me. But it’s this knowledge that I want to share with POC.
What has self-care entailed for you since your diagnosis?
I have always been a gardener but this spring/summer my garden was expanded to grow more veggies. Gardening has always been a relaxing thing for me but after diagnosis, it became mandatory not only for my physical health but my mental health. I learned how food can help during your treatment so organic food that I grew myself became a major self-care act. Juicing and meal prepping also became self-care acts as they helped with the side effects that come with chemo treatments.
Meditation and yoga became so important to me. The hardest battle for me during this process is the mental toll that constantly fighting has on you. These two activities help keep me centered and focused.
Journaling and blogging as well. I have always been one to write things down but journaling my journey has allowed me to release my feelings in a healthy way. Your family and friends just want to help you in any way that they can but the mental work you have to do yourself. My journal helps me with that.
Hiking and waterfall chasing helps too. There is something so peaceful about waterfalls. The flow, the power, the sound that relaxes me, and helps me keep fighting.
Are there any local organizations you have connected with?
I currently have not joined any local organizations as of yet. I am 7 months into my journey and things happen so quickly that finding time for organizations has been difficult. I am now at a place where I am ready to get active. I did join Keep A Breast and will be doing a breast cast. I am really excited about that.
What has been the best advice you have received during this time?
The very best advice I have been given during this journey is that having faith in God or a higher power is more powerful than anything else. Those who believe in something, strong mental health and support have higher rates of success than those that don’t. I truly believe that. I have people that tell me all the time “I just love your energy.” Some days I am just powering through and believing that I was chosen for this journey so I got this. My mind does a lot of this fight because some days my body is not with it.
What keeps you motivated and looking towards the future?
What keeps me motivated is my husband, my children, my grandchildren, my family and friends, and my clients. All these people give me a reason to get up and fight every day. Also, the fact that I feel that the telling of my story has to be done.
October is breast cancer awareness month but those of us fighting in the trenches fight it every day of the year. Some of us for the rest of our lives. So October seems like the perfect time to share my story considering everyone would be paying attention to the pink ribbon.
To get more guides and stories of the people behind the culture and soul of Nashville, subscribe to our weekly newsletter HERE.