A proud breast cancer survivor, ATL flight attendant publishes book about her ‘turbulent’ journey
Endeavor Air flight attendant Erika Weathers was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, when she was in her early thirties.
“You always think you’ll get cancer when you’re in your 60s,” recalled Erika, who is based in ATL. “I don’t have any family history of breast cancer in my family, [but] I found a lump and got it checked out.”
Although tests found three masses, the biggest mass was found to be non-cancerous. About a year later, however, doctors found that the smallest mass had grown and developed into Stage 1 breast cancer. Erika underwent a full mastectomy to remove the cancer.
Erika’s medical plan was to do hormonal therapy for next five years. However, the pills came with a lot of negative side effects and she stopped taking them. Just two years later, the cancer came back.
“I was shocked when it came back and it was the same cancer,” said Erika. “They performed another surgery and removed the cancer for the second time.”
Erika is now proudly 14 years cancer-free, but her experience still affects her to this day.
“Even though I am cancer-free, people don’t realize that you still live with it and pray that it doesn’t come back,” said Erika. “You try to eat right and try not to surround yourself with many toxins.”
The flight attendant, who earned her Endeavor wings in 2021, wrote a book about her experiences titled, Free Me 2 Be Me: My Turbulent Journey with Breast Cancer.
“I’ve always wanted to share my story,” said Erika. “My book is more than just my journey with cancer – it’s about how the people I was surrounded by and the places I experienced, got me to where I am today.”
An advocate for using safe brand products that do not contain any toxins, especially products for black women, Erika also mentors recently diagnosed women who need a helping hand during their treatments.
“I’m trying to make people more aware and see the need for diversity in diseases,” Erika said. “Most diseases are based on tests from white men or women. I believe there should be information on what diseases look like in each race, as some cancers are more common in certain races.”
While her cancer journey was life-changing in many ways, Erika said a big part of her journey has been learning to be her authentic self. Erika said she has learned to not hide behind her scars, but yet, embrace them.
After discovering a tattoo artist who does a free mastectomy tattoo each month, Erika decided to give it a try.
“It was crazy because he was in Montreal, and I had a trip in Montreal, so I decided to get the tattoo during my trip,” recalled Erika. “It was a smooth and incredible experience, and I absolutely love how the art turned out.”
Erika’s tattoo has a special meaning behind it, as it displays strong stems of a cherry blossom tree with butterflies flying around it.
“The cherry blossoms symbolize the delicacy of life, as they always bloom so beautifully but then leave so suddenly in the spring,” Erika said. “It represents the saying to ‘seize the day’ and live in the moment, as we don’t know how long we have.”