Cancer survivor tells her story
Ken McLemore, Hope Public Schools

HOPE – Students at the Hope Academy of Public Service were enlisted in a battle here recently.

Tiffena Pierce, a survivor of breast cancer, brought her fight for life and wellness to the HAPS campus to inform the grades 5-8 students of the need for greater awareness concerning the disease, and the importance of early detection.

Pierce recounted how she discovered a cancerous growth beneath her right breast and originally gave it little urgent consideration, despite her mother’s own battle with the disease.

“I was working as a social worker all week, and going to classes in Houston to get my doctorate degree,” she said.

An award-winning social worker for DaVita Dialysis in Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, Pierce was initially diagnosed with the disease in 2015. She said the original diagnosis took her by surprise because tests done in consequence of an annual mammogram examination took some time to be confirmed.

Pierce said she was in a doctorate studies seminar in Houston when she received the final diagnosis.

“I heard something in my doctor’s voice,” she said.

Pierce said the ultimate diagnosis determined that the cancerous growth was too deep to be readily removed. As a result, she underwent six months of chemotherapy, which was semi-effective.

“I had to have thirty rounds of radiation,” she said.

Finally, her doctor determined that radical surgery was necessary; and, in June her tests showed no cancer. Pierce only recently began reconstructive therapy.

“Cancer doesn’t know any boundaries,” she said. “It doesn’t know age, race, gender, or grade.”

Pierce said the key to her recover stems, in part, from her faith, and the refusal to internalize her illness.

“Never ask,’Why, me?’” she said. “Just fight.”

Pierce holds a bachelor’s degree from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia and a master’s in social work from the University of Texas at Arlington. She will be recognized in April, 2017, as Regional Social Worker for Region 2 of the National Kidney Foundation Council of Nephrology Social Workers; and, she anticipates receiving her doctoral degree within two years.

Pierce spoke to the HAPS students in conjunction with the national Breast Cancer Awareness Month “pink” campaign conducted each October.