Love & Marriage: Huntsville's Kimmi Scott Opens Up About Her Fight With Breast Cancer - Exclusive Interview

Kimmi Scott first revealed her breast cancer diagnosis during the last season of "Love & Marriage: Huntsville." In this season — which premiered April 8 — you'll see Scott managing her treatments while balancing her duties as a working parent and wife.

According to a 2022 report from the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is now the leading cause of cancer death among Black women. Compared to white women, Black women have a 41% higher risk of death from breast cancer because they're typically diagnosed at a later stage. Although the reasons for this racial disparity are complex, the report said that structural racism and access to care contribute to these health differences. The report added that some patients don't have the proper transportation to medical facilities or they can't afford to take time off work for medical care.

Scott also believes that Black women are afraid to talk to their doctors and each other about their breasts, and she's hoping to use her platform to help change that. In an exclusive interview with Health Digest, Scott told us about how she found her lump and how she and her fans have opened up more conversations about breast cancer.

When Scott felt a lump in her breast

You were diagnosed with breast cancer really young — tell me about how you found out about your breast cancer.

It was June 14, and my husband and I were watching the basketball finals because we're both avid sports fans. At some point during the game, I felt a knot. I was like, "Hmm" ... so I'm feeling and feeling. I tap him, and I'm like, "Feel this." He gets in there and starts squeezing around and looking, and both of us were like, "That's a lump. That's a for-real lump." He was like, "Well, make sure you call and get a doctor's appointment." That's pretty much my story. Literally the next day, we called the doctor's office. While I was waiting for them to call me back, I started feeling other places, and I found another one under my arm.

I wasn't super stressed out with this lump, but the one in my lymph node stressed me out. We went and got our mammogram done, and they did an ultrasound right behind it. On June 22, they confirmed that it was breast cancer — triple negative, ductal invasive carcinoma.

So you had surgery, and then you had chemo ...

My physician's plan of care wanted to do the chemo first. They said that they have had a much better response to doing the chemo first and getting that out the way, seeing how small they could shrink the actual tumor before the surgery. I had 20 weeks on board for chemo. About halfway through, I didn't feel well. I was having shortness of breath really, really bad, so they stopped it for about three weeks. Total, it ended up being about 23, 24 weeks of chemo. I had to take two drugs for two and a half months. Then I took a third drug for 12 weeks on the back end. My last dose was December 5.

How Scott's inner strength pulled her through her recovery

Where are you now in your recovery?

Right now ... In my head, I thought it was going to be a little different. I thought, "You do the chemo, then you have the surgery, then do the radiation." I thought I'd be done by Christmas with everything. But when I had the setback, that set me back a little bit, because I was originally supposed to be done the Thursday before Thanksgiving. I wanted that, the whole notion of being thankful and Thanksgiving. I thought it was appropriate.

When I got delayed a little bit, it ended up being December the fifth, and I had to wait about a month before I could have surgery. Then we did the breast-conserving surgery, and that was the end of December. They wanted me to wait six weeks before I could start radiation. Right now, I'm almost finished with the radiation. I literally have two more treatments — Thursday will be my last day of radiation. I had to do 32 doses of radiation. I went Monday through Friday every single day for the last seven weeks.

That takes a lot of courage.

Yeah, it takes a lot of wherewithal. You find out how strong you are because it's a lot. I can remember day one sitting in the oncologist's office and crying. He was like, "Okay, it's going to be this ..." and I was like, "It's a lot. Give me a minute." Every day, you look at your situation and why you were placed in it and what's the purpose of it.

Every day you get a little stronger. You get a little more fortitude. You get a little more cocky about it, because I got to a place where [I'm like], "Jesus is going to fix this." He gave it to me to find when I found it. I didn't have to find it — my mammogram wasn't due until December. The whole reason that I found it and the platform that I'm on, once I came to terms with the reality of who Kimmi is ... I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I believe that wholeheartedly — even when we don't agree with it or don't quite know why it happened, I'm a firm believer that Jesus takes care of me. It happened for a reason, and we're going to move forward in that vein.

How her fans showed support

Your fans seem to love you and see you as a great source of inspiration for them. How have your fans been supporting you through this?

They've been great. Every time there's a situation where they have to step up to the plate, they do, in a surprising fashion. I try not to bother nobody, so I can appreciate that I have established a fan base of sorts, and the way that they call me, email me, send me flowers, and send me letters ... They send pajamas, they send cards, and oils for your fingers. They tell me different stuff.

If I show a video in the house ... My son came to cook dinner one day — I had so many emails. They were like, "Go on and get rid of those styrofoam plates. Don't get them plates. Those cause cancer." If they see things that they see me doing in my house — "Don't do that, girl." They'll DM me, or they'll tell me about it.

What has moved me the most are people who reach out to tell me their story or their mother's story or their auntie's story of success — or people that were scared to go get a mammogram, but because of the show and our situation, they decided to go on and get the mammogram. Some people have emailed me back and said that it was found to be cancer. Some people have actually found cancer based on this TV show and going to get a mammogram and finding out that news. Some people came back, and it was nothing. It was benign.

This platform and the fan base that it has produced is amazing. It's amazing to me. I would've never thought that people would have that much love and emotion for somebody you see for 45 minutes — inspiring.

Raising awareness about breast cancer among Black women

How might you use your platform to bring breast cancer awareness to Black women?

As a nurse, I was familiar with statistics, but as a patient, it rings differently. Maybe it shouldn't. Maybe it should have rang differently the whole time I was in nursing. That may be somebody's opinion. But becoming the patient is astounding, the varied difference and the conversations that I've had in regards to how many people think they have a lump and are scared to go, versus how many people can't afford it. They don't have insurance. Even in the ultrasound portion, I have a best friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer last month. She gets her mammograms, but nobody ever suggested that she get an ultrasound because she has dense breasts. She got her mammogram in June, and she found a lump in December.

It's about information. Access to information is huge. As soon as I found out, my husband and I wanted to do a fundraiser, and we did a fundraiser called Bowling for Boobies. We were able to raise money, and we were diligent about looking for a foundation that supported African American women, primarily because of the disparities. We've reached out to Sisters Network Inc. because they helped people pay for mammograms who can't afford to go and get them. 

Pre-screening is important, reminding people to touch themselves, reminding them to get their mammograms done and to talk. We somehow have this whole secretive thing ... It was weird. I felt a little embarrassed to be diagnosed with breast cancer. It's kind of like another silent killer because we don't want to talk about it. We don't want to go into detail. If you feel something that's not quite right — you've got drainage from your nipple or it's inverse — tell somebody. Don't just go home because it looks bad.

We have to feel a little more comfortable with talking, and we have to feel a little more comfortable with holding our physicians to the fire. A lot of us are intimidated by our physicians, so whatever they say goes. Jesus made our bodies to tell us when something's not right. He made us perfect in that regard, so when you know that something isn't quite right, that's your job to hold your physician to the fire. You don't walk away and be like, "Oh, my doctor said so and so." If that doctor doesn't quite do it for you, go to the next one.

That was a soapbox for me even as a nurse. I didn't think, as patients, we often held our doctors to the fire. That's very important in this regard, and supporting each other as sisters, as daughters, as aunts, as mothers, take an aunt to the mammogram day, whatever it is. Some people don't want to go — go with them. Hold their hands. Drive them. We drive people to go vote; we can take somebody to go get their mammogram. By any means necessary, I have been committed and intentional about my conversation in regard to trying to change those numbers.

Scott remains committed to her purpose

Do you see a way for you to use your experience to maybe start something new to help?

Because I had such an idea of where I wanted my situation to go, my platform, so to speak ... We've always been community-oriented as far as what our intention was for our community and where we were going as far as opening the title company, opening our own real estate brokerage, all of those things. To add something else in my brain ... it's adding it to the plate of things I have.

I don't, at this moment, want to take something off to do something else. However, I want to do what I'm called to do. My purpose and my mission is what I want to do. If I am moved differently in the next weeks or months, then I will move to that path. But at this very moment, there are so many other things that we had on the books that we wanted to get done. Right now, I'm just trying to get as many of those opportunities to talk to people and share with people on the same plate as some of my other responsibilities.

The season ahead on Love & Marriage: Huntsville

What will fans have to look forward to on your show this season?

They get to see a lot of my transition of going through my different treatments and us getting to the other side of those treatments — some of the stress that it causes in a marriage, a relationship, or even in your friendships, because it's a village that we have here. They'll see a little bit of that. Also, we're trying to open the title company and the real estate company, and my husband's law firm that he's been working on. We've made some commercial acquisitions that we're trying to flip and get on the market. We do a lot of co-parenting, so people see a bit of that in our home. But in all fairness, I try to bring my situation, my conversation, my story, and the transparency of it all to the production.

But they also give me a little slack because I was going through a lot. Some days, I wasn't up to filming 14, 15 hours, so you get bits and pieces that they try to put together. Our circle of friends is expanding, so you get to meet a couple of new faces that have come into the circle, which I prefer. I prefer us to be able to branch out and bring some new stories and some new conversations to the table. You also get to see the core six that we usually talk about — the comeback group — and we try to make some inroads with some of the community events that we've talked about historically. There are a lot of things. There are things on the books that is everyday life. It's stuff that half the people sitting at their houses go through every day as well.

Is there anything else that you'd like to add?

In any conversation I have, I would be remiss if I didn't thank my husband and my family because they're my biggest supporters. It's tough when a nurse becomes a patient because we think we know best. We think we know what we want, and sometimes I don't know. "How do you feel?" — I don't feel like me, but I don't know what I'm supposed to say. [I want to] make sure that my loved ones know that they are appreciated in the midst of work and filming and households and family. I always want to make sure that they know that I wouldn't do this with any other group of people.

"Love & Marriage: Huntsville" is the #1 show on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. You can catch Kimmi and the rest of the cast Saturday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

This interview has been edited for clarity.