Actress Vanessa Bell Calloway who is best known for her role in Coming to America has shared the story of how she survived cancer. 8 years ago, the 60-year-old actress was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ, a type of breast cancer that causes growth of abnormal cells in the milk duct.
She has taken to social media to share the story of how she survived and conquered cancer. In an interview with BlackDoctor+org, the actress revealed how she was informed about the cancer and also shared the story of how she survived it.
She narrated how she found out after missing her mammogram. Calloway said: “I thought they were going to tell me that I had some incurable blood disease, I’m very dramatic! I had missed my mammogram because the place I usually went to closed, I had to find a new place, but life happened, and I got busy. However, breast cancer, that was the last thing on my mind because since the age of 40, my mammograms came back clear. I went to the doctor and had him do everything, blood work and all kinds of tests. He asked if I had pain. I didn’t.
He finally asked about my mammogram, and then sent me to get one immediately.” Calloway explained that it was later determined that she needed a lumpectomy but the doctor had not been satisfied with the success margins of the results and wanted to do another one. She said: “I was fine with that because I didn’t think anything was wrong. I just thought, ‘let’s knock this puppy out the park!’ At this point I had told no one but my husband; not my kids, not my parents, because I just thought it would be a one-two punch. And I am planner. I plan everything in life; everything has a schedule, so once it was determined that I wasn’t going to die, I made a schedule.
I thought, I’ll have this lumpectomy, then I’ll have radiology twice a day for five days, and be done before one of my daughter’s birthdays in September, and no one would know the difference. So when he asked me to come back that Monday, I wasn’t thinking a thing.” The actress stated that she went back for her second lumpectomy and was scheduled for radiation treatments. “So I decided I’d get my hair done beforehand. No sense in looking crazy! My phone rang and all I can hear is static and the word ‘mastectomy. The radiologist is trying to tell me that the margins came back unclear, and I wouldn’t be able to start my treatment that week. Here I thought he was calling to tell me to come in for treatment that afternoon.
I was hurt, I was mad; I wanted to break something. I like my house, so I didn’t want to destroy it but I was so angry I wanted to shatter everything, like in the movies. I pounded on my floors instead. What snapped me out of it was my sister, she looked me in the eye and said, ‘Vanessa, it’s a bad breast. Let it go.’ And my husband, who doesn’t’ cry, had tears in his eyes and said, ‘I love you. We have our daughters’ graduations and future weddings to attend, I need you here, I don’t care about that breast! The voice inside of me said, ‘Get it together woman, are you crazy?!’ And then I didn’t cry about it another moment. We had a family meeting and broke the news.”
After her surgery, Calloway was interested in getting reconstructive surgery and her husband, Anthony Calloway, who is an anesthesiologist helped her find a plastic surgeon to perform lap flap breast reconstruction. The surgery was done by taking skin from the soft tissue of her waistline to make a breast. She said: “I took lemons and made lemonade. The surgeon took fat from the ‘muffin top’ I got from having my two kids, and used that to re-build my breast. And while he was there, did some contouring around my waist! A new breast and lipo.” The surgery was successful and remained cancer free. She recently took to Instagram to share her story of how she survived cancer 8 years ago.