Return to Headlines

DPSCD Ten Year Breast Cancer Survivor Shares Her Fight Story

October is is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and for Arese Robinson, Program Manager, Office of College and Career Readiness, Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) shared her pride as a breast cancer survivor and 10-years in remission.

Robinson’s journey started in October 2012, at her annual mammogram appointment, a preventative screening that she started in her early 30s. After her doctor called her back saying that there was an abnormality, Robinson went in for a biopsy. The biopsy showed cancerous cells.

“I was devastated and shocked about how this could happen since I get mammograms annually and nothing has ever shown up. I notified my family and to understand if there was prior breast cancer history in the family. There was nothing,” said Robinson. “I began to process and reflect on ‘Why me?’ I began to schedule my appointments to meet with the oncologist and the breast surgeon to go over the recommended treatment plans.”

It was recommended to Robinson that she have a lumpectomy to remove the cancerous area. Usually during a lumpectomy, lymph nodes are also tested to see if the cancer has spread. Robinson’s surgeon had to go back in to test her lymph nodes where it showed the cancer had indeed spread, putting her at a Stage 2. Because of this, Robinson would need chemotherapy instead of just surgery and radiation.

“I went through eight weeks of chemo and 36 weeks of radiation. That all happened in 2013. The lumpectomy was in December 2012 and lymph node surgery in January 2013,” said Robinson. “Eight weeks of weekly four-hour sessions of chemo. The radiation was every day. Now, here we are in 2023, ten years later, and there are no signs of cancer. I recently passed another milestone; I see my oncologist every year instead of every six months.”

Robinson credits her family and friends for helping her get through her journey.

“Spiritually, I had to invest my whole mind, body, and soul into the ‘Why Me’ reflections. It finally hit me that ‘Why Not You?’ I was chosen for this battle, and it made me wiser and stronger,” said Robinson. “It made me appreciate my family more because they don’t live here. My friends and family never let me be alone, especially for treatments. I can’t put a price tag on that. I wasn’t here by myself, and having that support helped me get through it.”

During this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and with any other opportunity as presented, Robinson is a strong advocate of breast cancer prevention and screenings. This includes getting annual mammograms and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

“Fruits and veggies are essential and consuming less fried foods and sugary foods. [Cancer] feeds on those bad cells and that is what causes a lot of issues,” said Robinson. “I would recommend exercise, making sure you are mobile, less sugar intake, making sure you are eating lots of fruits and veggies, and alleviating stress.”

The Mayo Clinic also stresses that breast cancer prevention starts with healthy habits — such as limiting alcohol and staying physically active. Other recommendations include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Investigate your family medical history.
  • Eat healthy fats such as olive oil, over butter and eat fish instead of red meat.
  • Conduct regular personal breast screenings.

“The advancements in medicine were astounding a few years ago,” said Robinson. “There are so many other treatments now. These advancements have allowed more survivors. Early detection is key. If it is detected early, there is a very strong chance that you will be a survivor.”

We are extremely grateful Arese Robinson allowed us to share her story, tips and resources. We are DPSCD Proud of her 10-year milestone!