Alicia Thomas refused to let cancer disrupt her plans.
In the summer of 2012, Alicia Thomas was multitasking at her computer: completing assignments toward her master’s degree in counseling, while performing a breast self-exam. “I discovered a lump,” she says. “I had just had a mammogram in June 2012.”
Over the next two months, Thomas underwent another mammogram, an ultrasound and a biopsy. Post-biopsy, she got the news that the lump was Stage II breast cancer. “You would have thought someone had said something had happened to my child,” she says. “I lost it.”
But when she regained her composure, Thomas resolved not to let her diagnosis — or her treatment — interfere with finishing school and taking care of her daughter. “I had to continue with my normal routine,” she says. “I had to go on because of my child; because of my husband; because of my family and friends. It was like: We’re going to beat this thing, and that’s going to be it.”
She underwent a unilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, followed by chemotherapy and hormone therapy. In March 2013, she lost all of her hair, but, she met the loss with a cheerful attitude. “I thought I looked beautiful with a bald head,” she says. “Chemo took a lot out of me, but I continued to push myself.”
Thomas recently completed her master’s degree on schedule, having maintained a stellar grade point average throughout her cancer treatment. She sees herself as a supportive role model for other women diagnosed with breast cancer. “God saw fit to give it to me, and I’m going to set an example and show others what they can do if they’re diagnosed,” she says. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be a death sentence. You can go on and do the things you’re determined to do.”