This month, as the focus is on breast cancer awareness, we bring some stories which were published last year, of breast cancer survivors.
This story was published on October 23, 2022.
Former professional cricketer Kenroy Williams wants men to know that they too, can get breast cancer.
More importantly, he wants them to have their breasts checked and to visit their doctor if they become suspicious of any lumps in their breasts.
Kenroy, 38, who represented Barbados in the Under-15 national cricket team and captained the Barbados Under-19 Cricket Team and the Barbados Senior Cricket Team, knows that he is alive today because he wasted no time in seeking medical attention when he discovered a lump in his breast. Had he paid it no attention, he probably would not be able to share how he overcame breast cancer.
The Harlington, St Philip resident, who also played for the West Indies cricket team back in 2004, and represented Barbados and Jamaica up until 2018 and 2019 respectively, sat down with Easy Magazine to share his journey, after he was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2019. He also spoke of how a chance fall made him aware of his illness.
He told Easy, “I was playing cricket for Jamaica in January 2019. We were playing against Guyana when I fell while diving for a ball. When I fell, I felt a lump in my chest.
Returned to Barbados
“Immediately, I decided to go to the doctor in Jamaica. That doctor recommended that I have a biopsy. However, because I was concerned, I returned to Barbados before the biopsy result was given.”
Kenroy, who was slated to spend eight months in Jamaica, actually came home during the seventh month and decided to have a second biopsy done in Barbados while awaiting the results from Jamaica. Both tests came back positive.
He informed, “Dr Jacqui King was the cricketers’ physiotherapist and I knew about her work and battle with breast cancer. I had contacted her right away on my return and she recommended that I meet with Dr Ian Lewis.”
Within three weeks’ time, Kenroy had surgery (a mastectomy) performed on his left breast to remove the lump.
The father of a teenage daughter took everything in stride. But according to him, it was not an easy road; especially when he started the chemotherapy treatment.
He confessed, “It was very tough. The first round was tough. I was given a round of chemotherapy each week over a four-week period, then 12 rounds over a 12-week period. It was not easy.”
Kenroy also underwent additional rounds to ensure the cancer did not return.
As he recalled his journey, he stressed, “The first four rounds of chemotherapy made me extremely tired. They actually had me sleeping a lot – about two to three days after the treatments.”
The soft-spoken Kenroy spoke of losing his hair two to three weeks after his first round of chemotherapy. As if that was not bad enough, he was subjected to much taunting by those who did not know his health challenges and made fun of his baldness.
He paused, and with a serious face, he explained, “When I lost my hair a lot of people used to make fun of me. They wanted to know why I had cut off my hair and that it didn’t look good.
“I want people out there to understand that they never know what a person is going through. If they see a person with no hair on their head, it may not be that they cut off their hair just so. They may be dealing with cancer. I know what I experienced, even as a male. I am a relatively strong person, so I just smiled when they laughed. However, I would think to myself, “What if they do the same thing to someone who is not as strong, and who would not be able to take the insults?”
Was Kenroy surprised at his illness? He most certainly was.
The member of St Catherine’s Cricket Club since 2002, confessed that he was very surprised even though breast cancer took the life of his grandmother back in 2011.
“I was very surprised when I got diagnosed. I was surprised because few men get breast cancer,” he uttered.
Kenroy also felt that he was physically fit and that he ate properly.
He stressed: “As far as I was concerned I was in good physical shape. I was eating properly, exercising often, and doing all the right things. As a professional cricketer I had to keep physically fit.”
The eldest of three children admitted that he was never in the habit of checking his breasts; something he now does often.
He remarked, “I never checked my breasts because I never felt I needed to do so. I can say now that it is only by the grace of God that I fell down that day and felt the lump when I did.”
Always a firm believer in God, Kenroy said he gives God thanks daily.
“I thank God every day. I always had faith,” he affirmed.
Along with thanking God he also wishes to publicly acknowledge those persons who walked with him through his journey.
“Dr Jacqui King was fantastic,” he stated. “Words cannot explain how she helped me financially, mentally and physically. She was the Barbados Cricket Team’s physiotherapist and provided physiotherapy free of cost.
“The Barbados Cricket Association’s (BCA) CEO Dr Ronald Toppin and president Conde Riley really looked after me financially as well, and otherwise.
“The St Catherine Cricket Club came on board and held a fundraiser for me. There were others like my Barbados Pride teammates and fellow cricketers.”
Of course, Kenroy also had lots of family support. While his days as a professional cricketer are over, this now semi-professional cricketer is doing his best to live a normal life.
He declared, “I try to live as normal as possible. I still hang out with my friends and I do everything now in moderation. I never went on a special diet, but I started to cut down on my sugar intake wherever possible.”
So what advice does Kenroy really wants to give to men?
He reiterated, “I want you men out there to check your breasts. If you feel anything abnormal go and get checked immediately. Early detection is important and these checks can be done by any medical doctor.”
He added, “I caught my cancer early, when it was at stage 1, and I consider myself to be very fortunate.”
Kenroy also advises people not to stress if they are diagnosed with cancer or even stress over the day-to-day happenings of their lives.
This lover of cricket, reading and football understands that he is an overcomer. He now wants more than anything else to see others win in the fight against cancer.