Vanessa Bell Calloway

*October 26 marked the 6th year since veteran actress Vanessa Bell Calloway had a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery on her right breast, Madame Noire reports.

The breast cancer survivor shared her story with Black Doctor two years ago, saying that she had always been quite mindful of her health, which included regular exercise.

Calloway also told the outlet that she has always been diligent about getting her mammograms and pap smears – still, there came a moment when she knew there was something not quite right about her health. She told Black Doctor:

“I thought they were going to tell me that I had some incurable blood disease. I’m very dramatic! I had missed my mammogram because the place I usually went to closed. I had to find a new place, but life happened and I got busy. However, breastcancer – that was the last thing on my mind because since the age of 40, my mammograms came back clear.”

When Calloway went in for an up to date mammogram, it wasn’t long before they discovered abnormalities in her right breast. She talked about how the wait for the results was agonizing, and how she found comfort by the gospel song, “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”

“If God is watching a little sparrow, surely He’s watching me. That song soothed me and got me through that period,” Calloway said.

Vanessa’s doctor decided that she needed a lumpectomy, and when her doctor wasn’t happy with the success margins after the procedure, he wanted to do another one.

“I was fine with that because I didn’t think anything was wrong. I just thought, ‘let’s knock this puppy out the park!’ At this point I had told no one but my husband; not my kids, not my parents, because I just thought it would be a one-two punch. And I am planner. I plan everything in life; everything has a schedule, so once it was determined that I wasn’t going to die, I made a schedule. I thought, I’ll have this lumpectomy, then I’ll have radiology twice a day for five days, and be done before one of my daughter’s birthdays in September, and no one would know the difference. So when he asked me to come back that Monday, I wasn’t thinking a thing.”

She would later receive the devastating news that she would need a mastectomy.

“I was hurt, I was mad; I wanted to break something. I like my house, so I didn’t want to destroy it but I was so angry I wanted to shatter everything, like in the movies. I pounded on my floors instead. What snapped me out of it was my sister,” Calloway said.

“She looked me in the eye and said, ‘Vanessa, it’s a bad breast. Let it go.’

“I took lemons and made lemonade!” Calloway said. “The surgeon took fat from the ‘muffin top’ I got from having my two kids, and used that to re-build my breast. And while he was there, did some contouring around my waist! A new boob and lipo!” she laughed.

Vanessa’s surgery was successful.  She took time to celebrate the anniversary on her Instagram.

You can read her full interview with Black Doctor, here.