Heart of Detroit: Cancer survivor empowers other

DETROIT - Michelle Tubbs was 30 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

"I remember coming home and basically falling down in my room and balling my eyes out," said Tubbs.

Forced to learn the world of chemotherapy, radiation and mastectomies, the young wife and mother also discovered an additional burden when she went to support groups with older women.

"They all pitied me. And they said oh, 30 you are so young and I'm like I know, it makes me so mad.  And I was, I felt worse leaving that support group meeting than I had felt throughout my entire treatment," Tubbs said.

Michelle started the first local chapter of Young Survival Coalition (YSC), which focuses on cancer survivors under 40. 

"We all know each other's names and if there is a new person, we devote that entire meeting to that new person," said Tubbs.

The group deals with issues of particular concern to younger cancer survivors. 

"Sexuality, fertility, dating, adoption, feeling like your bodies are failing you so much earlier in life," Tubbs added.

There might not be an YSC chapter in Detroit if not for Tubbs who still stings with the pessimism of her earlier encounters with other cancer patients.

"She told me every horrible thing in the world that could possibly happen during treatment and I vowed to myself that I would never do that to another woman," said Tubbs, while describing her encounters.

Tubbs believes in positive messages. 

She is one. 

Now 35, she is currently cancer free and pregnant with her second child.

Tubbs shares this hope with the YSC group.

"They need to be up-lifted; they don't need to be brought down.  They don't need to be afraid," Tubbs said. "They need to know it is going to be ok.  They need to know that there is life after cancer.  A long life."

Providing support in life's toughest moments, Michelle Tubbs is boosting The Heart of Detroit.

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