Czarina Matthews, Survivor

Meet Czarina Matthews, a breast cancer survivor, motivator, and author. In our interview below, she shares with us her journey with breast cancer and how she decided to turn her 40th birthday into a celebration of survivorship and kindness.

Do you have a family history of breast cancer?

Yes, my paternal aunt was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in her early 40s. Although she is no longer with us, she won her battle against breast cancer long before she transitioned.

When were you diagnosed?

I was diagnosed February 26, 2018, my 38th birthday, during a car ride home from Austin, TX back to the Dallas area with my husband and my best friend.

Type/Stage of diagnosis

Invasive Ductal Carcinoma / Stage IIB

What was your treatment?

My treatment included:

  • 8 rounds of chemotherapy; once every two weeks
  • Lumpectomy and double breast reduction
  • 33 radiation treatments

What is your connection to Komen Dallas County?

I have admired the work of Susan G. Komen since my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. After relocating to the Dallas area from San Francisco, CA my awareness, admiration and curiosity grew. I began participating in the annual Susan G. Komen Dallas Race for the Cure and I even created and led a fundraising team. I wanted to honor my aunt, so I participated in the Race and the fundraising efforts in her memory – not knowing I too would soon be plagued by the horrible disease.

Tell us more about yourself and your breast cancer journey.

I am a child of God, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, an auntie, and a friend.
I am a PROUD Pisces – February is my favorite month of the year.
My favorite colors are PINK; Red, White, and Black combo; Purple & Turquoise combo
I am an introvert at heart, but can be social. I enjoy spending time by myself, but I especially enjoy the company of others in a small intimate setting.
I have a passion for helping others, as it brings me joy unparalleled helping others smile.
I love music and I enjoy singing, dancing, learning, reading, and writing.
I am honest and trustworthy.

When I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, I was hurt and afraid. But I didn’t allow those feelings to consume me and keep me down. I knew if I wanted to survive and stay alive, I had to fight with everything I had within me. I knew I needed God’s strength and God’s healing power to sustain me through the process. The treatment journey itself was very difficult for me because I had to be stronger than I’ve ever been in my entire life; not just for my sake, but strong for my family – my children. My husband and I tried extremely hard to maintain a sense of normalcy for the kids. So every day, I would get up, help get the kids together for school, make lunches, make their beds, and help with homework with pain in my joints and muscles. While on the inside, I wanted to lay down and get some rest or ball up and just cry. But I knew crying and stressing over things that were out of my control, would be no help for my treatment and healing process. So I stayed in constant prayer and encouraged myself to keep pushing. It is only by God’s grace, mercy, and His healing power that I survived to tell my story. I believe I survived on Purpose for a Purpose.

Why did you come up with the 40 Acts of Kindness Challenge?

Although I am in remission, I declare I am Healed! However, the healing process for me continues, as I am on a journey to total and complete healing – mentally, physically, and emotionally. As I journey to obtain and maintain peace and serenity in all areas of my life, I want to be able to inspire, motivate, and encourage others to do the same. While the age of 40 is a milestone and having a huge party to celebrate my life would have been amazing, I wanted to do something bigger than me – I wanted to give back in a way I have never given before. So, as I approached the age of 40, I challenged myself to 40 Act of Kindness. 

How was the experience and what did you gain?

My 40 Acts of Kindness Challenge is one I will never forget. I had the opportunity to meet some really great people. Some stated they too would like to adopt and share in the acts of kindness. Many were surprised by my kindness, but understood my mission. I had the opportunity to feed the homeless, donate to the Goodwill, volunteer at a local food pantry, delivered donut and coffee to the local fire station, paid for someone’s gas, and handed out note cards with encouraging words to random people in the community. I had so much fun turning smirks to smiles. Although the recipients were grateful and appreciative for the kind gestures, I was just as grateful they allowed me to help. I felt a sense of accomplishment, gratification and serenity having the chance to share just a touch of kindness, give a little love, and spread a little peace – God’s Love and God’s Peace. I am so proud of myself for completing the challenge.

What advice would you give to others/how do you want to inspire others?

Whenever you are faced with life’s challenges, trust God, pray, find a circle of friends or someone you can trust, communicate your feelings, don’t worry about things you cannot control and love yourself enough to make the right decision for your best interest. Stop putting the needs of others before your own, especially when it jeopardizes your health and well-being. Find what makes you happy and build upon your passion. Happiness, peace, and joy is not only something we can feel, it’s also something we can share and wear – it looks better when you wear it. So Smile!

Since my diagnosis, I have found myself advocating for mental health awareness, while managing my own struggles with the S.A.A.D. (Stress, Anxiety, Anger, Depression) Woman Syndrome. It is my goal to share my story to give hope to the hopeless, while demonstrating to those suffering from Anxiety, Stress, Anger, and Depression they are not alone. I endeavor to encourage, motivate, and inspire a generation to embrace, create, and maintain peace. I am in the process of writing a self-help memoir. My very first book will debut this May (2020). The book will discuss my Breast Cancer Journey as well as my personal struggles with stress, anxiety, anger, and depression.