Making Strides Moment: Nina’s story

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By: Abby Walton | WCTV Eyewitness News
October 2, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Leon County Judge Nina Ashenafi-Richardson is a woman of many firsts.

She’s the first African-American president of the Tallahassee Women Lawyers and The Tallahassee Bar Association.

She’s the first elected Ethiopian-American judge in the U.S

She's also the first African-American president of the Stafford Inns of Court.

And, she’s the first person in her immediate family diagnosed with breast cancer.

During the 2017 Leon County Relay for Life, Nina publically shared her breast cancer journey for the first time.

"I was brought up that you don't talk about your health issues. You certainly don't talk about cancer. You keep health issues private," Nina said.

Leaving Ethiopia at four years old, much of her family medical history is unknown.

"I don't know much of the history, cancer, medical history like that. But my father always believed that my grandmother, his mother died of breast cancer," Nina said.

Normally on top of her health, a busy life led this mom, wife and judge to miss her routine mammogram,
forgetting to reschedule.

Months later, she found a lump in her right breast.

"It was the size of a nickel and it was very hard and I felt and I know it wasn't even a question. It was like ‘oh my goodness this is not good’," Nina said.

At 52-years old, Nina was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“When the doctor is looking you in your eye and tells you this is cancer. You literally feel like your life is flashing before your eyes,” Nina said.

That life, made up of two young daughters and husband, Tallahassee City Commissioner Curtis Richardson.

"I personally began to get very worried not knowing what the outcome would be,” Curtis said.

With her husband and family by her side, Nina decided to fight.

“I was accepting to have a double mastectomy and to let go of my breasts. That was, for some reason, it was not as difficult a decision as I thought it would be because I said the priority is going to be life,” Nina said.

The disease, pushing her to re-examine her life.

“She is so giving and loving and rarely accepts anything in return and that's one of the things I've noticed about her now. She is willing to accept people being complimentary and doing things for her and being there to support her,” Curtis said.

Resulting from love and faith, shared by friends and family during her treatments.

“My cancer diagnosis has made me more sensitive, has taught me how to be a better friend to another survivor, how to take better care of myself, how to be a better mom, how to be a better wife and a better friend. You have to see it. You have to see the silver lining in that diagnosis,” Nina said.

For Nina, that now means sharing her story and encouraging others to always make their health a top priority.

Now, almost a year later, Nina is cancer-free.

WCTV is the proud media sponsor for the 2017 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.

Our Abby Walton is also this year’s event chair.

It’ll take place Sunday, October 22nd at Cascades Park in Tallahassee.

If you’d like to register yourself or a team, please check out this link: main.acsevents.org.