Dr Jacqui Quinn-Leandro beats cancer rap

Minister of Education Dr Jacqui Quinn-Leandro is presented with a bouquet by Senator Sylvia O’Marde at the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Conference, yesterday, at Jolly Beach (Photo by Tameika Malone)

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – “Coming from a nice, big, healthy afro to patchy, breaking hair to bald head; from smooth, sexy, brown skin to dry, ashy, grey skin; from well-manicured nails to darkened, brittle, soft nails; from running three miles per day to weak, painful muscles; from sharp acuity of mind to regular bouts of chemonesia. The journey has been physically, physiologically, emotionally draining and tired.”

That was how Dr Jacqui Quinn-Leandro summed up her sojourn with breast cancer over the last eight months.

In her first official function since her treatment abroad ended, the Minister of Education, Sports, Gender & Youth Affairs spoke yesterday of her journey from a breast cancer diagnosis to being cancer free.

Recalling the moment she learnt of her fate, the minister recalled being at the gym on the treadmill, listening to soca just two weeks after an operation to remove two masses, believed to have been benign, oblivious to the debilitating cancer in her body.

“When he (the doctor) said the words ‘unfortunately the lumps were malignant, you have breast cancer,’ I felt surreal. I was in total shock. I felt the air literally rushing through my ear. I did not hear anything else he said. I was unable to process anything else he said,” the minister said.

Now cancer free, a visibly well Quinn-Leandro told her female colleagues attending the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association; Caribbean Americas and the Atlantic Region that through her faith in God, support of family, friends and well-wishers she found the strength and courage to face the disease.

(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)


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