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Community Profile - T’ai Angel

Breast Cancer Awareness

Many of us in the early NFT space are exploring how to define our mission and our "why". We know that we want to have an impact, serve a purpose, belong to communities who are active and engaged, learn, grow, and find friends along the way. Fame Lady Squad is evolving, growing, and discovering our ethos every day. What stands out to so many of us is the special community that is emerging as we embrace opportunities to connect and get to know one another.


We're half-way through October, and while we've recognized Breast Cancer Awareness Month in a few little ways here and there, we believe supporting female-focused initiatives in a more thoughtful and purposeful way moving forward will be integral to creating a powerful presence in this space. We want to spread good information, ways to support and uplift women, and share stories from our amazing community. After a Twitter Spaces chat earlier this month, one of our stand-out Ladies, T’ai Angel (@TaiAngel9) reached out ready to share her story as a Breast Cancer Survivor. We couldn't be happier to have this amazing woman be our first featured FLS Lady. We believe sharing personal stories and art/writing associated with one's journey can help us all become better, stronger, more empathetic, and in this case, more informed and capable of helping ourselves and the ones we love.


We recognize putting something so intimate out there for the world to see is incredibly brave and meaningful. Thank you so much T'ai for sharing this with us.


Please find T'ai's story in her words, and her art and poetry below.

T’ai Angel - All glammed up for company awards night!

My Un-Boring Life Continued

by Felicia Amow-Hosein aka T’ai Angel


I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017. My breasts were fuller and felt different and weird so I visited my gynecologist who discovered a lump. He was very surprised as I diligently did my mammogram and breast ultrasound every year, and I was extremely fit and healthy and in the gym 5 days per week. My mother had breast cancer in her 40s, and I had had a benign lump removed when I was 17. I have fibrocystic or lumpy breasts so all of the above made me very particular about my breast health and care. I would later find out that my cancer was most likely genetic, passed down from my paternal genes which are usually stronger. My father’s sister had breast cancer in her 70s.


A breast ultrasound, mammogram and biopsy were done days later. When I visited for the results, happy, smiling and chatting away with the receptionists and the nurse, believing that all was okay, the doctor walked in, sat down, chatted a bit then said, “You have breast cancer.” There are no words to truly explain what I felt and thought in that moment upon hearing those words. I expected someone to jump out from behind the screen and say “You’ve been punked!” After I told my family, I locked myself in my bedroom for a few days ignoring all calls and pleas to open up. I even lied to my family and told them that my next doctor’s appointment had been cancelled. The nurse called repeatedly but I just could not process all that was happening.


After I eventually emerged, I visited the doctor. An MRI scan revealed that there were cancerous cells around the initial lump discovered. I opted to do a mastectomy as 1. Less chance of the cancer returning as the entire breast is removed. 2. I only had to do chemotherapy with no radiation. If I chose to do a lumpectomy I would have had to do both chemotherapy and radiation. During surgery my right breast was removed, implants were placed in both breasts so they match, fat was removed from my stomach and placed in my breasts for a more natural look, and lymph nodes were removed from under my right arm to test to ensure that the cancer had not spread to other parts of my body. I had Stage 1, Grade 3 breast cancer. Stage 1 is “good” if you have cancer, Grade 3 not so much as that means the cancer is aggressive. Thank God the cancer had not spread throughout my body. The oncologist advised 4 sessions of chemotherapy.


One thing that irked me was people hearing I had cancer, hearing the stage and the number of chemo sessions and saying “Oh you’re lucky! That’s all! You will be fine!” I wanted to scream “Cancer is f***ing cancer whether Stage 0 (yes there is a 0) or Stage 4!"


I also got “God chose you to go through this because you are special.” Ahmmm... I never asked to be that special! I certainly did not feel lucky or blessed or special during the process.


My nurse advised that I cut my hair before the chemo as it is more devastating when your long hair falls out. My hairdresser cut my hair shorter and shorter every 2 weeks until my final shaved buzz head look. I rocked some sexy hairstyles during that period. I also wore scarves, caps and fedoras. I sported a black, a striped grey and a hot pink fedora. All depended on my mood. I tried a wig but after one day I ditched it as it did not feel like me. I felt like an imposter. Plus it made me sweat.

After the first chemo session the little bit of hair of my buzz haircut started to fall off. I would wake up and see evidence on my pillow. I visited a barber to shave it all off. I was fine until I got home and saw myself in the mirror. I cried and locked myself away for about 2 days. Finally I said “Self, you have to snap out of it!” So I dressed up, put on some makeup, went out, got back home and took photos of myself smiling and being silly, which helped to remind me that I would be okay when things were really bad.

Between my chemo sessions I was so weak that I could not walk or feed myself properly. My daughter administered special injections at home to boost my white blood cell count as I was too weak to go to the health centre for a doctor or nurse to administer. During that time I lost my appetite and had a metallic taste in my mouth. But I was so bad mind and determined to finish all treatment in 2017 that I forced myself to eat and drink to be “healthy” so my chemo sessions would not be delayed.


What got me through was my support. I had my family with me every step of the way. They were at every doctor’s visit and every chemo session.

T'ai's daughter’s art using copies of her x-rays & reports

The following year, after all chemo was completed, I travelled to Peru and hiked to the top of Machu Picchu. I was determined to prove to the world, and more to myself, that I was okay and still myself – active and healthy.

Machu Picchu, Peru | 2018

After my last chemo session in December 2017, I suffered with many side effects such as dizzy spells, nausea, chemo/brain fog, blurred vision and tiredness, to name a few. I visited many specialists and had many tests done such as a brain scan to determine the cause of my dizziness and blurred vision. Finally an ophthalmologist determined that the chemo and medication had damaged the membranes at the back of my eyes, so surgeries were needed. I was high risk due to the shape of my eyes (they’re big) so I had to undergo general anesthesia. I had my first eye surgery in May 2020 and the second in June 2020. Today I am cancer free and, as I love to tell people, bionic with my new boobs and clear eyesight.

I have certainly had my challenges since my diagnosis including PTSD, anxiety and depression. It is crazy how one minute you can be active the entire day and still be full of energy at night, and in a blink you are exhausted after a 30 minute outing to the grocery. I have learned to accept that I have a new normal. My new bald hairstyles made me feel strong and bold, like I could conquer anything. I have learned to enjoy the small moments in life because things can change in an instant. I have learned to say no and put me first, to love myself as I have loved and love others. I continue to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone and experience new things.

@TaiAngel9 - Current Avatar

T'ai's advice:

1. Get your mammograms and breast ultrasounds done every year.

2. Do self examinations.

3. Before chemo, shave off your hair.

4. During chemo force yourself to eat and drink to maintain your strength. Eat any and everything, even if it is ice-cream or chocolate.

5. Trust and follow your doctor’s advice and instructions.

6. Therapy is a girl’s best friend.

7. Journal your thoughts and emotions away. Or if you prefer, draw like I do. Seeing my thoughts and emotions in words scares me most times. It helps, but it makes me emotional and less in control. I have learned that crying is okay, it is cathartic, and it doesn’t mean I am weak. It makes me stronger!


Drawings by T'ai

"Release" - Poetry by T'ai


I look down and cannot understand why I could not accept you,

Why I still find difficulty accepting you;

For so long you made me feel uncomfortable,

A fake,

Now noticeable,

Visible for all to see.

Can they tell?

Do they see the difference?

Will they judge me not knowing my situation?

I laugh,

I make jokes,

I feign acceptance,

A pretentious bravado so they don't judge me,

Think me ungrateful,

A baby,

Whining for something that so many others would die for,

But that's just it,

I had no choice really,

Mine was life or death,

Albeit death lurked in the shadows

Many moons away,

But,

Still,

Death.

Why do they trivialize my experience

As "easy", "a breeze", "could have been worse"?

It still looms,

The poking, the prodding, the piercing,

Destruction of living molecules,

Goodbyes to possibilities,

So many possibilities.

I had major hurdles to overcome.

Once upon a time,

Asleep like Sleeping Beauty

They laboured around me.

Tall mountains once again loom in the distance

And I breathe, focus, prepare myself for the trek

Up its rugged side that seems to mock me,

Challenge and tease me.

Can I conquer this one intact?

Do I have reserves that will push me onward when I falter?

The weight of my load forces me to the ground,

Bruising my knees;

The sweat,

The blood,

The tears

Swirling together like my mind's confusion,

My emotions tumbling, rolling, unrecognizable.

Is it because I smile and do not complain?

I don't get comfort and softness,

I get "Be strong!" "You are strong!" "You will win like you always

do!"

I yearn for comfort and softness,

Gentleness,

Hugs,

Understanding,

Acceptance,

Patience,

Peace.


Felicia Lee Amow-Hosein aka T’ai Angel

12 September 2017

4:15am

Last day of chemo!