After several tests,her doctor confirmed her fears in October 2008.
“‘She said as compassionately as possible,‘Tovoia,it's breast cancer,it's cancer,'” Miner said during a breakfast fundraiser for the Capital Breast Care Center at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on Wednesday. The event marked the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Although Miner didn't initially react to the news because she felt she was prepared for what was to come,the “numbness,fear,anxiety and disbelief” hit her on the way home.
“I said,‘This can't be happening,I'm already so overwhelmed,” said the 42-year-old real estate agent from Upper Marlboro,Md.
“With tears rolling down my face I cried out,‘Lord,I don't have time for this. How much more can I take?'” she told the crowd of 600.
Miner was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer,one that is especially prevalent in African American women.
According to the American Cancer Society,192,370 cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year,and 40,610 women will die of the disease. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer.
From 2001 to 2005,Washington had the highest rates of breast cancer and deaths from breast cancer in the country.
In the District,172.4 women per 100,000 were diagnosed with breast cancer,compared to 126.1 per 100,000 nationwide. The mortality rate of breast cancer in Washington was 32.4 per 100,000,compared to 25 per 100,000 nationwide.
“The harsh reality of breast cancer is that it is a disease that affects all of us. It is a disease that does not discriminate,” said Michelle Cross Fenty,president of the CBCC advisory council and the District's first lady. “It affects all women regardless of age,race,national origin,religion or socio-economic status.”
The CBCC says it is the only center in the metropolitan Washington area that offers mammograms,breast examinations,breast cancer education and navigation services for additional treatment,without regard to patients' ability to pay. CBCC also provides transportation and a bilingual staff.
The National Breast Cancer and Cervical Detection Program,which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,offers free- to low-cost mammograms and other services across the country.
Sen. Mary Landrieu,D-La.,said access to services can be difficult for people who lack health insurance or come from low-income communities.
“For those that are diagnosed early and have good health coverage,that's one thing,but for a person to be diagnosed without health coverage is quite another thing,” said Landrieu,who held a breast cancer fundraiser in her D.C. home last year. “There is no reason for young women,or any women,to die from this disease,with the sisterhood that exists in this city.”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz,D-Fla.,41,who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year,recently introduced the Breast Cancer Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young Act of 2009,which calls for a campaign to educate young women about the incidence of breast cancer in their age group. According to the National Cancer Institute,about 1.9 percent of women ages 20 to 34 were diagnosed with breast cancer from 2002 to 2006.
“We can give more women the power to stand up,the power to speak up and the power to survive,” said Wasserman Schultz. “Many women,too many women,do not know their own specific risks or what they can do to become aware of them.”
Her bill was scheduled for a hearing before the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health after the breakfast.
Miner had a double mastectomy and is undergoing chemotherapy.
“If the CBCC had not been there in such a critical time to guide me though my breast cancer problems,I may not be here with my family and to give my testimony to you today,” Miner said. “They save women's lives,giving us a chance for a better today and a hope for a brighter tomorrow.”