The testimony of Guyana-born, Priyadarshani Gordon, a cancer survivor, is a fitting example of courage, strength and determination. Since age 26, Gordon has been in the fight of her life, taking a daily cocktail of medication to treat the deadly disease, that is now in many parts of her body.
Gordon, lovingly called Marcia, an only child for her mom, told Caribbean Life, recently, from her home in Elmont, Long Island, that despite side effects of the drugs, and a seizure, which she recently had, she stays busy.
She fixes puzzles, creates decoupage, and plays an integral part in assisting with the Health and Education Relief Organization / Cancer (HEROC), the organization, that supports her well-being.
“I am doing good, and enjoying life one day at a time,” she says, with a smile that lights up a room. She stays positive, despite the battles she faces.
Thanks to a demonstration she had at school, a routine self-examination helped Gordon to find two lumps in her right breast.
This did not send her into a panic, because as a biology student back then at Bishop’s High School, in Georgetown, she understood the body makeup, and knew that fibrotic breast was not always a negative diagnosis.
However, she followed up with an appointment at the Cancer Institute in Georgetown, and enquired about doing of a biopsy. However, an ultrasound instead, cleared her of any malignancy. This inspired Gordon to get on with her busy routine and later that year traveled to China, for a planned Agro-Forestry seminar.
The young woman, who was already a Sunday School teacher, and in her last year of becoming a lay preacher, explained that during her return flight from Asia, felt as if everything was spinning around her. “I thought it was maybe jet lag.”
At the same time, she already had in place a well-deserved vacation, along with her mother, Alexandria, to travel to the United States. But shortness of breath sent Gordon back to the doctor after she arrived in Guyana. The examination showed her left breast had increased in size that led to a biopsy, and a three-week wait for the result.
In pain, and stitches yet to be dissolved, the young woman traveled to America, and while here, her trusted friend, a doctor, advised her on the diagnosis of Stage 2 breast cancer.
Humanitarians Dr. John Mitchell and Dr. Harrison Mitchell founders of the Health and Education and Relief Organization (HERO) and Lorna Welshman-Neblett, president of HEROC, immediately embraced Gordon, who said she knew God was and is in charge.
After another biopsy, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer that progressed to Stage 4 within a month.
Gordon’s prognosis was dismal at best, but her determination to fight has brought her to this point after a double mastectomy surgery, several sessions of radiation, bouts of chemotherapy, and the loving support from her mother, Alexandria Gordon, second mother, Lorna Welshman-Neblett, and multitude friends, who are constantly by her side.
This incredible woman inspires the lives of many with her active social media and socialite status. Someone who still beams, looks healthy and well, despite her struggles. In a 2019 Facebook post, she said: “Personally, this has been a medically challenging year with months of 24 / 7 headaches, changes in treatment resulting in weight loss, months of having just enough energy to get around the house, multiple days in the hospital and continued daily chemotherapy, multiple needles, not forgetting a recent seizure.”
But she keeps up the faith and follows her doctor’s orders to eat whatever stays in her stomach. She has not changed her diet too much but drinks veggie shakes, and eats in moderation to keep up her weight.
Side effects of the medication at times give sharp pains in her head, but she is not deterred. She says it takes a village to care for someone, and keeps herself busy. She is always fixing anything broken to keep herself occupied.
Gordon could be seen participating in community events, and engaging in programs to help others. Many cancer survivors reach out to her for encouragement. She is also an inspiration to everyone she comes into contact with.
“Do not live with regrets, yes, being diagnosed with cancer is the last thing you want to hear, but you have to keep moving forward. There is always a reason to smile,” said the inspiring young woman, whose confidence is as high as a mountain peak.