Abiola’s Love Class: Meet Bershan of Oprah’s “Love in the City.” She Beat Cancer, Twice!
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Love Lesson: How to Heal Your Life
Bershan Shaw is the latest lightworker to shine on the OWN, Oprah Winfrey Network. It’s okay if you’ve never heard of her…you soon will be hearing a lot about her. Along with other dynamic working women, she stars in the upcoming reality series, “Love in the City.”
Bershan is also a shining star in her own life. A few years ago, a doctor gave her months to live with a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis. She healed herself and has a mission to help others find healing. Bershan is a warrior who actually beat cancer twice! As the founder of the URAWarrior.com community, Bershan is an author, life coach and motivational speaker. This woman is an inspiration in every aspect of her life.
Now she reveals how she healed herself, whether her husband stayed with her through the ordeal, and what we can expect from her new reality show.
You’re just this incredible shining light. You have had quite a journey – really, really wild as it pertains to health. Please tell us what happened a few years ago, Bershan, right before you were about to get married.
I was on the pathway of acting and writing in New York City and I was bartending, trying to make ends meet. I was really good at bartending; I had a crowd and every year I got a bigger and bigger following. My client said, “Why don’t you open a restaurant? I will back you. Instead of working for someone else, work for yourself.”
I was on the journey of finding my restaurant. I found one, and I got diagnosed with breast cancer at age 33. It just rocked my world because I was young, I was on the right path; I was writing – a screenwriter – and actress and I was like, “Really?” I was so ashamed of it. I was so embarrassed; I didn’t want to talk about it because I didn’t want to be known as ‘the sick girl’. “Oh gosh, she has cancer. She’s about to die.”
I owned a restaurant called Haven and I just didn’t know how to deal with it. I pushed my diagnosis under the rug and didn’t want to talk about it until two years later when I got breast cancer again; diagnosed at Stage Four. They gave me three months to live. The doctor said, “If you believe in miracles then maybe a miracle can happen.” I remember hearing that, I walked out and I said, “I believe in God and I believe in miracles.”
I went out and started getting into myself; really meditating and praying and going about soul searching. That’s when I really started to say to myself, “I am a warrior. I can do this. I can beat this. This is not my life.” Two weeks before I was married, they told me that it was Stage Four and it just broke me down. But I said that I have to start doing the work: meditating, praying, reading, and researching.
Little by little I changed my diet. I changed the way I thought. I changed who I was. I just changed my whole belief system and said, “I am a warrior, I’m going to beat this.” I became a vegan vegetarian, I started exercising every day, and I started meditating, which changed my life. Every year I would go to the doctor and the doctor would say, “Wow, Bershan! The tests are looking good.” The next year, “The tests are looking good” and now I’m considered no evidence of disease.
That’s powerful! Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Did you have a family history?
Yes. My mother had breast cancer, and unfortunately, she passed away. That [history] started me on the road [to be healthier]. I said, “I have to make this happen.” I got into juicing. I got into eating well. I got into exercising. I had a regimen.
We all have cancer; cancer grows in your body and we all have cancer. But what makes Lance Armstrong beat it? What makes Elizabeth Taylor beat it? What makes people beat it? It’s your mind and it’s doing the work. I realized that the mind can enslave you or empower you.
I think that people listen to the doctor and think that the doctor has the last word. The doctor does not have the last word, you do.
The doctor does not have the last word. I’m glad you said that, that’s so important: you have the last word. Your doctor did not bring you in this earth; the doctor can’t take you from this earth. Once you realize that it’s all in the power of the mind. If you believe that you’re going to be sick and that you’re going to die, it’s going to happen. But if you believe that you can beat it and you’ll win, you won’t fail. It’s all in the mind. I’m telling you that make you change your thoughts and change your attitude which would change your life.
How long was the time from when you received this devastating Stage Four diagnosis to free and clear?
In April 2009 I received the diagnosis and about 2012 – 13 they considered me ‘no evidence of disease,’ so about three years later.
Wow, that’s beautiful! Bershan. You were about to get married when all of this happened. How did your husband react? Did he stick by you and deal with this?
That’s the reason I married him, because he stuck by me. Finding out that your wife has Stage Four breast cancer two weeks before the marriage could change your life. You can say, I can’t deal with it – the sickness, the chemo, the wearing scarves, the throwing up, the drugs, the debilitating – my husband stuck by me. He told me “I’m going to be there. You’re my wife, I’m going to be there.” Then I knew, this is the man of my dreams.
What a blessing. Community is such a big part of your work. Do you personally have a strong support network in your life?
Yes, I do. I have not only my friends and my family, I have my community, the URAWarrior.com community, which I wanted to start because I realized when I was going through my sickness and my illness so many people were sick. So many people were dealing with AIDS or infertility or diabetes but they didn’t want to talk about it. Everyone was suffering in silence. We were pushing it under the covers, didn’t want to say they had a bad divorce, and didn’t want to say they were dealing with gay right issues. They didn’t want to say it because they were embarrassed because society makes you feel embarrassed when you’re dealing with anything. Everyone wants to make it seem like they have a happy home when they’re suffering.
That’s when I started URAWarrior.com. It’s a social networking site. Right now we’re building it out more, but right now you upload these inspirational videos of what you’re going through or you upload pictures or photos or texts so you won’t suffer alone. We feel like when we go through it we’re by ourselves, but we’re really not. There are really millions suffering like you. That’s why I wanted to start this community.
I get people emailing me – “Oh my God, I had cancer too. I didn’t tell someone.” Or, “I’m dealing with drug addiction. I’m dealing with this.” They just want to share their story.
You are an incredible teacher and you’ve joined together with the incredible teacher, Miss Oprah Winfrey, and you have a new show coming up on OWN! It looks amazing!
“Love In the City” is about four women – me, Chenoa, Kiyah and Tiffany – who are career women, working women, who have trials and tribulations at life. We have struggled, we’re real women, but we overcome them and we are making moves. It’s not about this brag ship fighting, throwing drinks at each other. We’re black women on the rise making things happen, helping each other, loving each other as friends.
It’s a positive show, thank God for that. Our show is aspirational. Our show is positive. Our show is about helping one another, black women going through struggles, black women going through challenges. We’re friends.
Somebody is reading this and she can’t get out of bed. She’s feeling down or sad. What is your advice for her so that she can make a baby step?
Don’t let your mind depress you and challenge you. You have to say, “I can do it.” Take it step by step; “I can do it. I can do it. I can do it.” Keep telling yourself “I can do it. Whatever it is, I can do it.” When your mind changes up and goes negative, “I can do it. I can do it.”
It’s the mind that enslaves us. It’s not really that a person can’t get out of bed or a person can’t really go for their dreams; it’s their mind telling them they’re not good enough. They can’t do it; they won’t be able to do it. That’s all it is, and that’s fear – false evidence appearing real. I remember my pastor said, “Bershan, you think you can do everything.” I said, “Yes, because I believe it. Why not? If I don’t believe it, who will?”
I believe in God. I don’t fear anything but God. Do you know what I mean? I just believe that we all have it to be great. I believe nothing is impossible; nothing is too good to be true because we deserve all the happiness and joy that we could get. We deserve it.
Yeah. I deserve it. When people say, “How did this happen? It’s too good to be true!” I don’t believe that; nothing is too good to be true. It’s supposed to be yours. You’re claiming it.
The new docu-series “Love in the City” premieres Saturday, April 12 from 10-11 p.m. ET/PT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.
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Passionate Living Coach Abiola Abrams gives extraordinary women inspiring advice on healthy relationships, self-esteem and getting the love we deserve. You’ve seen her love interventions in magazines from Essence to JET and on shows from MTV’s “Made” to the CW Network’s “Bill Cunningham Show.” Find love class worksheets, advice videos, coaching, and more at Abiola’s Love University. Her upcoming advice guide is named “The Official Bombshell Handbook.” She is also the creator of the “Love Body Spirit Detox” Program. Tweet @abiolaTV or #loveclass.