Breast Cancer Doesn’t Care If You’re A Business Owner: Shawn Brown’s Story


Summer of 2019 I had pain in my right breast, I paid it no mind, chucked it off as maybe hormones. As time went on and the tenderness turned to pain, not a constant pain but here it also with a burning pain in the same area. I mentioned it to friends and family occasionally, but it was thought to be maybe a cyst but nothing too serious because I didn’t not believe that breast
cancer would cause pain.

I had just opened my newest and biggest location. There had been a lot of press, I was preparing to shoot a Christmas special for a cooking channel …one of my biggest film projects after my surprise at GMA. I was determined to make it a success. I thought my time was here, and if I kept pushing, my CheeseCaked would be able to run itself and provide for my kids.

One night after work, I was getting ready to take a shower and I noticed that the same right breast was leaking a clear fluid. I immediately called my aunt who is an RN and she instructed me to run, not walk, to get a mammogram. It was October now and it was breast cancer awareness month so my options were good. There were a few steps to take but I ended up at Piedmont Rockdale for a mammogram and ultrasound. I’m still thinking this is all going to be okay. I’m sure it’s nothing serious. After the mammogram, the ultrasound tech said they had enough information to share with the radiologist and if there was nothing to be concerned about,
she would return and let me know I was free to go. I waited knowing I would be on my way home in just a second and good to go …but she walked in and said, “The doctor would like to see you.” I said out loud “aww damn”. I headed into a room with lots of TV screens, and my breasts on all of them. Dr. Perez was a beautiful black woman, she said “Ms. Brown now I see
what brought you in today but I also see something else that concerns me further back on your chest wall”. Not only was there one lump that formed but now there were two. I asked “Well are they cysts”? She said “No they are not cysts, they are masses and I don’t know if they are cancerous. I am going to order a biopsy of both masses and we will go from there”. Now I have to wait for the biopsy and then wait for the results. Talk about anxiety. Do I tell my children? My staff? My mom?

It was and still is an emotional rollercoaster. Do I close my business? They keep telling me stress will make it worse. Well being a business owner is extremely stressful. Do I have to pick between my business or my life? I don’t have disability insurance because I am self-employed. How will I support myself? How will I support my children?


Next stop…surgeon oncologist. My friend Alisha and her sister Ashley helped me pick the best oncologist in Atlanta Dr. Diehl. When I met him, he said it was stage 3B and would order an MRI and lymph node biopsy but he was confident it would be positive as well and the cancer is also triple negative so we need to move forward quickly.

Now I’m scared and immediately go into crisis mode. I debated between taking time off or letting someone run my business on my behalf. It would be hard to close the business if I have no income and my employees have to find new jobs but I need the time to focus on myself for once in a long time. Can I trust someone with my baby to hold it to the same standards as I would? I’m going to be bald…How will I look? I stayed in constant prayer.

I met with the chemo doctor, who in fact said I was at stage 3b and needed to get my treatment plan started immediately. I wouldn’t be able to work much at all and my chemo went from being three months to five months. Whoa! This is way longer and more serious than I thought.

At this point I’m scared to death. I’m scared for my children and my family. I mentally checked out of CheeseCaked. I was mentally paralyzed, I almost blamed CheeseCaked for my illness because if I had not spent the last 10 years of my life trying to build this brand I may have taken better care of myself. We opened here and there as I struggled with what God wanted me to do, I prayed constantly for a sign. Although it would briefly keep my mind off of what was happening, I couldn’t be creative and I couldn’t find my happy place there anymore. If I couldn’t do my best and give my customers the best me I would rather take a step back and come back
a better me.

As of September 4th, 2020 I have completed IV chemotherapy, double masectomy and five weeks of daily radiation. I’m currently on an oral chemotherapy for the next six month’s and preparing for more reconstruction surgery. While it has not been an easy fight its not my first fight. I’ve been fighting for my life it seems all my life.

In February of 1994, a life-altering tragedy happened to me. My sister and I were in a head-on collision caused by a drunk driver who did not want to wait at a train crossing. Instead, the driver barreled through the intersection into oncoming traffic and plowed into their car, hitting them
head on. This man’s decision severely injured my sister, and caused me to suffer massive head and body injuries knocking me unconscious, and killed my ten-week old son, Jakori. The majority of my injuries were head and face related. The injuries were so extensive that the medical team asked my mother for a most recent picture so they could reconstruct my face.

Through all of this, I have worked hard to regain and reclaim the young woman I lost on that tragic day. While my life has been dealt more than its share of bitter adversities, I have been determined to show my remaining three children that one can overcome life’s most difficult lessons. For that reason, I stayed positive and ambitious in hopes of one day fulfilling my life’s dream of opening my own bakery that specializes in cheesecakes. This dream became a reality when I finally fulfilled her passion by opening up CheeseCaked.

I am so grateful and overwhelmed by all of the love and support. I have such a strong support team and prayer warriors fighting WITH me I am confident I will make it to the other side and begin to reopen CheeseCaked, inspire, encourage and fight with anyone ever fighting this



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