She had a smile that could light up a room and future so full possibilities. Shaneera Lawson Smith was multitalented, a model, a actress appearing in various plays and eventually landing a small role on the HBO hit series “The Wire” all while multi-tasking as a stylist.
But Shaneera’s most important role was being a mother. Shaneera adopted her nephew Eric Lawson when she was just 16 years old. She later married becoming a stepmother then eventually give birth to her only daughter Tatyana.
“She was here and then she was gone”, said Renee French who is Shaneera’s mother over her late diagnosis.
While breastfeeding her daughter, Shaneera noticed a large lump on her breast. She was refereed to three different surgeons who all told her the lump was probably a case of mastitis which is an infection that affects women who are breastfeeding.
“To see a lump like that with that lump as big as it was on my daughter they made a lot of mistakes as far as false diagnoses. They never took the time to look into it”, said French.
Deciding to get one last opinion and with no health insurance Shaneera went to the St Joseph's Cancer Center, a biopsy was ordered and devastating news followed. Shaneera was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer.
Shaneera was ordered to have a mastectomy. Recovery followed and Shaneera became an advocate on breast cancer. Sadly bad news was ahead. The cancer returned spreading to her brain. “That was the worst time of my life watching my daughter die. We did everything together”, said French.
“I just can't imagine what she went through because the later stages of her life it was tough. She lost her vision”, said Fred Lawson who is Shaneera’s father.
On June 21 2010 at the young age of 35 Shaneera died as a result of her late diagnosis. “It’s just sad that god takes all his angels at an early age when you think of cancer you think you think of old people it wasn't young people at Shaneera's age.
Now Shaneera's family wants other doctors to pay better attention to younger patients and they hope there will be more help with women with no health insurance.
“My message to all doctors you need to look into it listen to your patience and learn the history of the family”, said French.
Shaneera’s family will be walking in this years Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in her memory.
“The only thing I would say to her is that I love her with all my heart and I miss her more than anything in this world.
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