Once upon a time, I thought and felt crazy to use the word "coming out of the closet.” Yes, I did all I could do to come out of shame, lies, agony, despair, and beat stigma caused by living with HIV for many years. In actual fact I felt cured way before the miracle.
But little did I know I am not immune to other cancerous diseases.
As an activist I found myself booted out of the NZ HIV campaign due to being black and a woman. Mostly being bold and being recognised as part of the international HIV advocacy is what got me targeted. Our NZ government depend on tourism so they declared the end of HIV. A cruel stunt to us survivors. That was not a good look for my adopted country. Closed out I had no means to continue what I had thought was my calling. But aye, I had done my best. The first woman to come out of the closet, to write an intimate HIV story about living and surviving the gruesome epidemic.
December 2018 my mammogram result came back. The next few weeks that followed a new chapter was forming. Yes, I had cancer and this time it was not shameful to seek support from family and friends. I remember my doctor saying I can help you with telling your family. I giggled a little and replied, "Doctor it’s not like I have HIV."
Having lived with HIV taught me how to gracefully run into anything without fear and prejudice. A few weeks later on the 13th of February I got my breasts removed successfully. I am one person who is lucky to have high tolerance when it comes to pain. I only wished for a better outcome. I was fit as a fiddle. I had to and goodness knows what that was.
On the 28th of February I went in for a check up, results, and treatment with my surgeon. "All your results came negative of any cancer. Therefore you don't need treatment. You are discharged," my surgeon spoke. I laughed so much. So much that the surgeon thought I was going crazy.
I am in recovery mode. The last time I posted here was two years ago. I went back into my closet after I was shamed by my own government. While in my closet I did what the Stigma Warrior Princess knows best. To be humbled with who I am.
To have good health we need to put ourselves first no matter what. If I had counted on other positive people to comfort me I would have been disappointed. Or the HIV NGOs would have broken my heart.
Coming up is how to celebrate each part of your body and creating a welfare environment. Love life, live who you are.
Hope you all are doing just fine.
Stigma Warrior Princess