"Breast cancer made me realize there is no reason to be afraid since the worst has already happened. I now live more fully and I no longer get upset about the small things." -Jamil Rivers
When Jamil Rivers, 41, was diagnosed with metastatic de novo breast cancer just a month before her 40th birthday, she was devastated. Jamil had always been the caretaker in her family, which includes husband Fredric, stepson Tre (now 18), and her sons Michael (8) and Joshua (7). She had recently moved into a new home and had just started a new position as CFO at Education Works, a local non-profit. Like most moms, Jamil was the project manager of her family, the superwoman who made sure everything was organized and on schedule. She didn’t know how she’d be able to manage treatment and take care of her family – and herself.
Before her diagnosis, Jamil was diagnosed with fibrocystic breasts at the age of 16 where she had benign cysts that were drained. Since then her breasts would change texture. After a miscarriage in 2015, her right breast remained engorged and fuller than the left. Her OB/GYN doctor thought that it was probably due to a blocked milk duct since her right breast was always the breast which produced the most milk when she breast fed. Then in the winter of 2017, a cold that wouldn’t get better might be asthma, a pinch in her side could be a pulled muscle from moving boxes, or perhaps was a sign of gallbladder or appendicitis problems. She asked for an ultrasound a couple months later, and it revealed lesions in her liver. Following a biopsy, she was diagnosed with stage IV hormone positive breast cancer. She spent close to a year on intravenous chemotherapy, which shrunk her tumors, and proactively had her ovaries removed to suppress estrogen. Currently, her ongoing treatment includes endocrine therapy.
Since her diagnosis, Jamil has sought all of support and information and support she can find, as well as the mentors and organizations that can help her in this quest. Her primary goal is to provide a stable life for her family, particularly her children, and she believes that knowledge and support empower her to make choices that help her achieve that goal. Jamil’s focus on information and support brought her to utilize many of LBBC’s programs and services including our website, printed guides, webinars, and Reading for Reassurance program.
Jamil believes the information she has found so empowering personally would be helpful for others facing breast cancer, and became part of LBBC’s Young Advocate program so that she could learn how to better mentor other women with breast cancer, and how to advocate for herself and others. She is particularly focused on advocating for more support and research funding for those with metastatic disease, integrative therapies, and bringing to light the health disparities facing black women. As an advocate, Jamil has had numerous speaking engagements and appeared on TV several times.
In 2019, Jamil joined LBBC’s board of directors, and serves on the finance, strategic planning and investment committees. Jamil chose to become involved with LBBC because LBBC gives people the resources and tools they and their families and caregivers need to take on this disease. When Jamil was diagnosed, she felt alone and overwhelmed; now she can use her involvement in LBBC to help provide community and information to other women who need it.