Rays of Resilience

She Had Chemo, Radiation, And A Mastectomy — And Still Maintained A 4.0 GPA For Her Doctorate

Rays of Resilience: 31 Stories in 31 Days. So many people around the world have been affected by breast cancer, yet no two breast cancer journeys are the same. This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re celebrating a new survivor every day. Their resilience is an inspiration to us all.


My name is Tiffena.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. I had taken a biopsy a few days before leaving to go out of state for my Residency, because I was working toward my Doctorate in Social Work. During this time, I received a call from my doctor informing me that the biopsy tested positive, but I refused to go home.

I was surrounded by other supportive social workers who helped me through while away for my residency. My daughter wanted to leave college and come home to care for me, but I told her to continue on because I was going to fight this.

I have fought through six months of chemotherapy, six weeks of radiation, and bilateral mastectomy. I literally worked from my chemo chair, and I only took two weeks off work for my mastectomy.

Did I mention that I’m still in the Doctor of Social Work program with a 4.0 grade point average? I am currently working on my dissertation. My daughter is now working on her Masters degree.

I’ve had some challenging situations: I did all this without my car. I had to get a motor and other things went wrong with it, but I did not miss any appointments or work. I went for radiation treatments every day after work. Radiation really damaged my skin and it has taken a long time to heal.

I am currently on arimidex for 10 years. The medication makes me tired and my body aches a lot, but yet I keep pressing on. I am currently in the reconstruction phase. I am scheduled for another surgery in December.

Through it all, I remain thankful and I’ve kept the faith. I am very thankful for my support system. They have been great. My family and friends have been with me every step of the way.

My motto through my journey has been: I refuse to let my diagnosis determine my destiny. Thank God for what HE has done and what HE is doing. I feel that it’s working. THIS IS MY STORY.

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