HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Breast Cancer Awareness Month is just a few days away from coming to a close, but those who have dealt with Breast Cancer know all too well that it is a year-round battle.
That includes Nikia Lightfoot from Huntsville, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. She told News 19 her first thoughts about the diagnosis.
“Once I had the biopsy, I was notified within 24 hours that it was breast cancer,” she said.
Lightfoot said she found the lump herself while at home. She was 34 years old at the time. That’s more than ten years before the American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms for women.
She noted that while she was young when she was diagnosed, she isn’t alone.
“It’s sad because it seems that more women or young ladies are getting diagnosed with breast cancer,” she said.
Lightfoot also noted that men are also diagnosed with breast cancer but at a smaller rate.
There are also some grim statistics for Black women.
The American Cancer Society states that Black women are 41% more likely to die from breast cancer, even though their incidence rates are similar to or lower than white women.
Despite her diagnosis, Lightfoot remained positive through her cancer journey.
She told News 19 she endured a lumpectomy, 36 rounds of radiation, and took daily medication for the last 10 years. While those methods made her feel better, she also found something else that worked magic on her body.
“The next day after I was diagnosed [with breast cancer], I completely stopped eating animal products,” she said. “I believe that helped support my recovery.”
She switched to a primarily plant-based diet. Lightfoot said plant-based diets cut out all animal products, but it isn’t as strict as a fully-vegan diet.
“When I did eat a lot of animal products I felt heavy and a lot of times after eating, I was tired,” she said. “So going to a plant-based diet, I have a lot of energy.”
In the last 10 years, Lightfoot has stuck with the plant-based diet and turned it into the Vujee Vegan. It’s a plant-based ghost kitchen in Huntsville.
The restaurant specializes in creating plant-based versions of comfort foods like cheeseburgers, mac and cheese, chili, and cornbread.
While plant-based eating isn’t a cure for cancer, Lightfoot said she enjoys making food that makes other people feel good.
“I think it was a fad, but now, you know, people are being more conscious about their health and what they’re putting in their body,” she explained. “So I’m excited to be a part of this community.”
Now, as she celebrates being 10 years cancer-free, she’s also gearing up for a menu expansion at the Vujee Vegan. She said people can “stay tuned” to see what’s next for the business.