Have Questions About Triple Negative Breast Cancer? App “Talk To Someone” Is Providing Answers
When Delphyne Lomax Taylor, 60, was told she had triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), she hadn’t heard of it before, so she focused on the “negative” and assumed it wasn’t a bad thing. But as her doctor would explain, it’s actually a more complicated form of cancer. Because she didn’t initially test positive for a specific type of cancer with an origin, it would be hard to figure out the right treatment for her.
“She said we have to treat it very aggressively because triple negative means we don’t know where it started,” she said over the phone. “So it was kind of frightening.”
Her diagnosis was eventually pinpointed as stage two of triple negative, as the cancer traveled to a lymph node. She had a mastectomy on her right breast and afterward, went through with treatment — chemotherapy. It was during that treatment that Taylor started started asking all sorts of questions about her condition, about the drugs that were being put in her body (one actually gave her nueropathy, or weakness/numbness from nerve damage, in her toes), and more. But a lot of people who are have been in her position often can’t get the answers they seek out. So after successfully fighting against cancer and entering remission in 2014, she decided to help other women trying to understand a triple negative diagnosis. She’s done work with the Center for Black Women’s Wellness as well as Susan G. Komen, so much so that she was asked by health simulation company Kognito and the CDC Division of Cancer Prevention and Control to help them develop a new app called Talk to Someone. The app helps patients speak with an avatar named Linda, a TNBC survivor, to gain insight on their treatment options and what their diagnosis means. “Linda,” is based on Taylor.
“They just called me and asked if I would be willing to share my experience. It was really exciting,” she said. “They interviewed me, they asked me like hundreds of questions. We talked for a few hours about triple negative everything, from diagnosis to treatment to how I felt to just anything you could think of that maybe someone that was diagnosed with triple negative would ask. And then they created this avatar and it was interesting. I was like, ‘Ooh, she kind of looks like me.'”
TNBC impacts 10-20 percent of all breast cancer patients, and because it is harder to treat due to the fact that it’s not receptive to hormone therapies, Talk to Someone makes a very big difference.
“It’s great because with this particular simulator, they have so many different components. So if you asked this question, it’ll take you down this path. It’s almost like any question that you could imagine that someone diagnosed with triple negative might have, it answers,” she said. “Not me, but sometimes women don’t like to talk to their physician or they don’t like to talk to a nurse so they don’t have anyone to talk to. This particular program or simulator, you go at it at your own pace. If you were afraid or didn’t want to talk to somebody, it’s very beneficial.”
Taylor is glad to be a benefit to women who’ve been in a similar battle with breast cancer. She even helped her own sister get a mammogram and successfully get through a breast cancer diagnosis around the same time (“She just had to have a lumpectomy and hers wasn’t triple negative”). She’s helping to save lives by raising awareness and through Talk to Someone, and she’s also more grateful than ever for her own.
“Every day I try and live with purpose,” she said. “And I hate to say that because I definitely don’t want to wake up tomorrow and that cancer comes back and it’s real aggressive and I happen to pass on. But I’ll tell you, if that should happen, the homegoing service is going to be a good one because I have traveled. I have fun every day. I hate to say live each day like it’s my last day, but it’s kind of true. I just try and live a really full, rich life as much as I can. And it’s not always about how much money you have or anything like that. I live life to the fullest every day.”