‘Cancer thriver’ offers encouragement, advice at Delaware conference

Nicolle Surratte (upper left) talks about how she supports other cancer patients during her Kaleidoscope: Empowering Survivors Mind

Nicolle Surratte (upper left) talks about how she supports other cancer patients during her Kaleidoscope: Empowering Survivors Mind

“Cancer picked the wrong person!” Inspirational speaker and health and wellness advocate Nicolle Surratte hates the thought of thinking of herself as a victim.

Five years cancer free, the New Castle resident doesn’t let health worries stop her from doing what she loves. “It really hasn’t slowed me down a lot,” Surratte said.  “I continue to do my marathons because that’s who I was and I wasn’t going to allow cancer to take that away from me. It took a lot of things away from me–my long hair: gone; my taste buds: shot;  my immune system: weakened; but I knew that cancer couldn’t kill my purpose.”

Surratte is now using her cancer experience as a way to educate others about the importance of living a healthy and balanced life, especially post treatment. Surratte’s breast cancer diagnosis came after she noticed something peculiar following a self-breast examination.

“You need to know what’s normal for you. And that’s how I realized something was wrong,” she said.

She encourages women to be active participants in their health. According to Dr. Diana Witmer, Medical Director at the Breast Center and Breast Program at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center at Christiana Hospital there are precautionary measures women can take to avoid getting cancer.

“Not smoking reduces your risk of developing a breast cancer. Keeping your weight under control, particularly after menopause, reduces your risk of developing breast cancer. Also, you can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer by up to 20-percent by being physically active on a very regular basis,” said Dr. Witmer.

It’s a combination of physical well being coupled with a healthy and balanced lifestyle that Surratte, who calls herself a “cancer thriver,” shares with audiences. “I am speaking to women all across the country and what I’ve found is that too many of my surviving sisters don’t seem to know that when you complete that last chemo or radiation treatment you have to continue to take care of yourself to reduce your risk of recurrence,” Surratte said.

Recently, she hosted the Kaleidoscope: Empowering Survivors Mind, Body and Spirit Cancer Conference at the Embassy Suite in Newark. The two-day conference kicked off with a night of “Cocktails and Comedy.” “Our chemotherapy drugs are referred to as cocktails, so Cocktails and Comedy is a show featuring comics from across the country who are cancer survivors. Laughter therapy is my favorite way to combat stress,” Surratte said.

Day two focused on gaining knowledge about ways to reduce risk of recurrence and improving health without the use of prescription medications. MedExpress and the Black Nurses Association of Northern Delaware provided complimentary health checks and participants were also treated to manicures and massages, in addition to learning about the benefits of meditation and nutrition.

Five years ago, cancer interrupted Surratte’s life, but it didn’t take her off the course of pursuing her life’s work.. “If I could just say one thing that makes somebody, helps somebody, improve the quality of their health, and possibly extend the quantity of their days then I know that I’m accomplishing my assignment.”


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