Tanya Burke

Tanya found her breast cancer early thanks to a self-exam that detected a lump She was diagnosed with Stage 1A triple-negative breast cancer (IDC- invasive ductal carcinoma).  The grade was said to be aggressiveso she chose to be aggressive with her initial treatment and had a double mastectomy with direct reconstruction.  After her second surgery, she developed a bacterial infection.  The side effects from the antibiotics combined with severe back and joint pain from chemo left Tanya “walking like a 70-year-old.” She is staying as active as possible and seeing improvements. 

Tanya is focusing on her current phase that falls into two categories she coins: “soft” treatments and “deep” treatments to align her body and her mind.  Her soft treatments include acupuncture, counseling, massage therapy, support groups, nutrition, and occasional hypnotherapy.  In addition to these treatments, she participates in a cancer-related fatigue program at a local university that offers weight training and yoga to help improve side effects.  Her “deep” treatments are prayers, daily devotions, positive affirmations, church services, and bible study.  She believetaking care of her spirit is essential—especially as a single woman with no children.  She believes that “my reason for being is ME!”  For those out there that feel like they have no one, Tanya wants to share the message that they must come to value themselves wholeheartedly and know that value is the reason to press on and thrive with purpose.  

One breakthrough moment that stood out to her during her journey was when her breast surgeon told her to see herself as a survivor and not a cancer patient. It was a profound statement because it feeds her mind which feeds her TOTAL being.   


Tanya is single with no kids.  She chose not to tell her father, a stroke survivor, about his baby girl’s diagnosis.  She had to look within herself for inspiration and drive.  Rebuilding her faith in God and herself along with her amazing support system gave Tanya the strength to fight and live.  She is most thankful for her village of family, friends, sorority sisters, church family, college classmates, service providers at the Sari Center, prayer warriors, communion buddies and those who would treat her like a regular person and occasionally distract her from it all. 

Her immediate family showed great support.  Tanya’s eldest sister provided her with a place to stay after surgery while going through treatment, her eldest brother videotaped portions of her journey and nominated her as a Warrior and her middle sister was her primary caregiver providing amazing, selfless care and support daily.  All three went to different chemo treatments with her and that made the time pass quicker.  Her other brother supported her from afar with fervent prayers. And her extended family paid visits, sent gifts, prayers and lots of love. 

“I hope my journey and testimony will encourage others and increase their faith. I also want to help more African American women be more visible and heard so they can receive equitable care.” 

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