Survival of the Realest
A deadly diagnosis put Erika Stokes on a path to self-love
A little over two years ago, Erika Stokes was having a run-of-the-mill Friday night. The 32-year-old sales executive at Electrolux was ready for bed, so she completed her nightly hair routine, brushing and wrapping up her straightened tresses in a silk scarf.
Although she adored natural hair, she worried that the look might be too unrestrained for the business environment she worked in.
"Is it corporate enough? Crisp and clean? I felt like it wasn't quite seen as being acceptable," Stokes says. So she played the middle, cutting out the perms but still going to the salon to have her hair professionally straightened in blow-outs a couple of times a month.
As she laid down in the dark of her Steele Creek apartment, she decided on a whim to give herself a breast exam, a habit born of the admonitions of her mom, a registered nurse.
"It felt like there was a hard rock in my breast," Stokes recounts calmly. Her voice holds not a trace of trauma or fear as she recalls details of the roughest journey she ever had to live through.