The funny lady is talking about something not so funny on an episode of the “Ellen Degeneres Show” set to air this Monday. On the show, Sykes reveals that she was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year and made the conscious decision to undergo a double mastectomy to help ensure that the cancer wouldn’t have a good chance of growing back in the future. According to Sykes (and with help from our friends at CBS News), 47, it all started when she went to the doctor in the hopes of actually having breast reduction surgery in February:
“I had real big boobs and I just got tired of knocking over stuff. Every time I eat – Oh Lord,” she explained. “I’d carry a Tide stick everywhere I go. My back was sore so it was time to have a reduction. “It wasn’t until after the reduction that in the lab work, the pathology, that they found that I had DCIS [ductal carcinoma in situ] in my left breast. I was very, very lucky because DCIS is basically stage-zero cancer. So I was very lucky.”
So if it’s stage zero, I’m sure you’re wondering why she would bother to make the huge step of getting both breast removed. On top of the fact that her family has a history of breast cancer on her mother’s side, she says:
“Cancer is still cancer. I had the choice of, ‘You can go back every three months and get it checked. Have a mammogram, MRI every three months just to see what it’s doing.’ But, I’m not good at keeping on top of stuff. I’m sure I’m overdue for an oil change and a teeth cleaning already.” She adds, “I was like I don’t know, should I talk about it or what. How many things could I have? I’m black, then lesbian. I can’t be the poster child for everything.”
It’s good to see Skyes not only stepping out and speaking on her experience, but still having a great sense of humor about it. However, we all know breast cancer is NO joke whatsoever, stage zero or not. Be sure you’re getting yourself tested and doing check ups on your breast on your own. Sykes says she is doing good now, which is a great thing to report. But we’re also happy to report that the University of Michigan has just received a $3.5 million grant to to study cancer stem cells in an aggressive subtype of breast cancer that disproportionately affects African-Americans. As Dr. Max S. Wicha of University of Michigan’s Comprehensive Cancer Center say: “We urgently need to develop novel approaches to treat triple-negative breast cancer in order to reduce racial disparities. Through this Komen grant, we propose to develop novel therapies capable of attacking and destroying the lethal seeds driving these cancers, the cancer stem cells.”
Let’s hope so. If Sykes situation doesn’t tell us we need to take breast cancer more seriously, I don’t know what does…Kudos to her for making such a brave decision.