Normani talks about supporting her mother through breast cancer
Normani knows what it feels like when a family member is diagnosed with breast cancer.
When the singer was five years old, her mother, Andrea Hamilton, received her first diagnosis. After being cancer free for 19 years, in 2020 Andrea found another lump. In an editorial for She magazine, the singer recalled feeling “helpless” after her mother was diagnosed for the second time.
“I was in Los Angeles when I learned that my mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer again. My family had returned to Houston. Three weeks earlier, when I was visiting my mother at home , she fell into my arms expressing how scared she was,” wrote American Cancer Society Ambassador Normani. “She had a gut feeling about the results. I felt incredibly helpless because I wasn’t able to cure her.
While Andrea is now in remission, Normani, 26, said she “struggled on every level” not knowing how to change her mum’s situation.
“At the same time, I was working on my first album, and finishing it felt very unrealistic. Other than my mom, I didn’t care about anything, including music,” she wrote. such a challenge to creatively stay in my rhythm while allowing myself to feel everything I needed with my mom.”
Her mother promised she would “always be here” once her album was released, which gave her purpose. “Every session and every recording I made carries weight because my art was her escape during treatment,” she wrote. “I felt conflicted because on the one hand I needed to be home with my family, but on the other hand they needed me to stay on track.”
The “Motivation” singer noted that there are two experiences people go through when someone is diagnosed with breast cancer: “The one who endures and the one who does their best to support.”
Normani described her mother as “incredibly independent and self-sufficient”, adding that “watching her break down and not being able to function was really painful”. However, having her mother find her own bumps taught Normani “the importance of watching for changes in your breasts and taught me what mammograms were like at an early age.”
Aaccording to the American Cancer Society, Black women are 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women. Black women are also more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage or at a younger age.
In addition a 2021 report from the American Society of Clinical Oncologists declines in cancer screenings, delays in care, and other aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic have worsened the health disparities faced by black women with breast cancer.
Related: ‘Be the Bridge’: Woman Starts Group to Support Other Black Women With Cancer
“I also encourage anyone who has a family member with cancer to have your family speak to a doctor about genetic testing,” the former Fifth Harmony member wrote. “We took these measures as a family. Knowledge is power, so whatever you don’t know, don’t be afraid to ask.
Her experience also taught her to “maximize every moment and prioritize real life over mere existence.”
“I experienced some of the most memorable moments of my life after my mother’s diagnosis,” she concluded. “I know for a fact that I’ve already been through the scariest time of my life thinking I have to exist here without my mum. The things that scared me before don’t anymore.
As for her long-awaited solo album, Normani spoke with TODAY in April and shared that she has no plans to release it until she’s ready.
“I needed to figure out what I wanted to talk about and what was important to me,” Normani continued. “And I had time to do it. So this will really be an introduction to who I really am.