Ananda Lewis, a TV host familiar to longtime viewers of BET and MTV, kicked off Breast Cancer Awareness Month by telling her own story.
Lewis, now 47, revealed Thursday on Instagram that she’s been dealing with the disease in private for almost two years. She apologized to her friends and family members who might be hurt by the news, but said she’d been deliberately avoiding stress.
That’s when she explained that the reason for her revelation was to warn others.
“For a really long time, I have refused mammograms, and that was a mistake,” Lewis said. “I watched my mom get mammograms for 30 years almost, and at the end of that, she had breast cancer, and I said, ‘Huh. Radiation exposure for years… breast cancer. Yeah, I’m going to pass. Thanks anyway.’”
She now regrets that decision.
“If I had done the mammograms from the time they were recommended, when I turned 40, they would have caught the tumor in my breast years before I caught it through my own breast exam — self exam — and thermography,” said Lewis, who hosted her own talk show in 2001. “And they would have caught it at a place where it was more manageable. Where the treatment of it would have been a little easier. It’s never easy, but I use that word in comparison to what I’m going through now. Instead, what I’m dealing with is stage 3 breast cancer that is in my lymphs. I need you to get your mammograms.”
Lewis noted that she had actually received more radiation as a result of skipping mammograms. “I would have had probably three or four mammograms by the time they caught it,” she said. “Instead, I had two PET scans so far!”
PET scans expose the patient to roughly 62 times more radiation than a mammogram, according to the American Cancer Society.
Lewis cried only a couple of times while delivering her message.
“I have a nine-year-old I need to be here for,” Lewis said at one point. “I have no intention on leaving him. I don’t want to leave any of my kids. I don’t want to leave my friends or my family. Hell, I don’t want to leave myself. I like being here. So, listen, this is not how this was supposed to go, but I’m just going to keep it real with you like I always do.”
Lewis, who believes in natural medicine, said she’ll continue to share her health status with people in the future in the hopes of convincing them to do what she did not.
“For me it was important to come to you and admit where I went wrong with this, because it could help you or someone you know,” Lewis said. “This is an ongoing journey for me.”
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