PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Philadelphia woman living with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer is not letting a dire diagnosis stop her from living her best life. Jamil Rivers has become a national spokesperson through her work with Susan G. Komen to shed light on the metastatic breast cancer community. She is using her own touching story as an example of hope and healing.
In December 2017, Rivers and her family were dealing with the common winter cold that hit the household. A lingering cough eventually led to more doctor appointments and she also requested an ultrasound after feeling a pinching sensation in her side.
“When I went to get the ultrasound, it showed I had lesions in my liver,” Rivers said. “Another mammogram, ultrasounds, liver biopsy, it had been breast cancer that had already spread to my liver, my lungs, my spleen, my bones, my abdomen, my chest wall.”
She was faced with the devastating diagnosis of Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer that was rapidly spreading throughout her body.
“I was devastated, I have a beautiful family,” Rivers said, “I’ve always felt that I’m so blessed, my kids are still young. They were only 16, 6 and 5 at the time.”
Rivers began aggressive treatment, which led to weekly chemotherapy appointments and the loss of her hair.
“I initially started with chemotherapy,” Rivers said. “Now all of my tumors that were all over my body have been shrunk to microscopic size, so I’m what they consider to be stable.”
Rivers then reached out to Komen Philadelphia, gaining support and lending her voice as a metastatic breast cancer patient to a community of fighters who also feel isolated and voiceless.
“Same way that Komen was the leader in bringing breast cancer out of the shadows,” Rivers said, “they have to now be the leader to metastatic breast cancer out of the shadows.”
Rivers has spoken at national forums on metastatic breast cancer, especially as it relates to African American women.
She participates in Komen Philadelphia’s “Know Your Girls” initiative that’s meant to educate and empower the African American community on breast health and disparities.
This year, she will be speaking at Komen Philadelphia’s “More Thank Pink Walk,” sharing her experience with thousands on Mother’s Day.
“It’s a little different than Race For The Cure. It’s more inclusive, definitely for metastatic breast cancer patients. Metastatic breast cancer patients are also going to be in the forefront. We’re not in isolation. We’re out here. We’re not the Debbie downers at the party. We’re included at the party.”
Until there’s a cure, Rivers continues to live with metastatic breast cancer, taking each day as it comes, living life to the fullest with a renewed appreciation for every breath she takes.
“I’m living proof that you can live with metastatic breast cancer, I’m still working full time,” she said. “I’m still enjoying my family, I’m still active and yes I know that I’ll be in treatment for the rest of my life, but it’s doable.”