Within ourselves we have the inherent ability to overcome the unsettling fear after finding out you have cancer. For weeks your world is so closed as your mind tries to absorb the shock but slowly you come to the realization “it is out of my hands,” and you find the strength to move forward, digging deep to find an inner courage and a deeper faith as you begin your walk towards healing.
While on vacation with my husband, I found a lump in my left breast and after many tests, I found out I had invasive HER2 stage 2 plus breast cancer. Awash in anxiety, my husband and I clung to one another.
Surrounding myself with positive thoughts and guided by the realization “I was not alone,” I prepared myself for the unknown. Drawing positive energy from my band of angels, I vowed to go beyond the protocol for my cancer treatment and assure that my body was prepared for the onslaught of my cancer treatment. I changed my diet, eating lean meats and fresh vegetables along with tons of water. I cut out all sugar and alcohol, and tried to exercise as much as possible.
For five and a half months, I endured the tumultuous chemotherapy treatments that were infused through a portal in my chest, every two weeks always with this big hunk of man at my side. I leaned on him completely as together we took our fi rst steps towards healing. I was also blessed to have the support of my oncologist, Dr. Cynthia Osborne and her team of caring professionals at Texas Oncology, Baylor, the love of family and friends, and a constant presence; God is my strength, my refuge.
Even as the onslaught of the dreaded side effects took it’s toll, I knew that my tumor was getting smaller and smaller. Nausea was my worst enemy in the first round of chemo which I called “Red Devil” and with each treatment the metallic taste in my mouth got worse as my appetite diminished. In the third month of treatment, my team of doctors changed my protocol to Taxil. Even though, I seemed to feel better, by the fourth month a whole new series of side effects occurred. I developed neuropathy and eventually lost my fingernails and toenails along with a lingering rash.
My cancer diagnosis came about the same time, as I was to participate in a Photo Review in New Orleans. By living each day as it came, I scheduled my chemo treatments so that I would be feeling good during the time I would be in New Orleans. I was so grateful to a friend who dropped everything to be with ”baldy” as I prepared myself for the Review so afraid I would throw up on the judges. The one word I remember from this experience about my photogravure artwork was a constant comment of “WOW.” Afterwards I had two solo art shows and participated in several charity auctions. My photogravure artwork became my therapy and by staying busy, cancer did not rule my life.
After much thought, I decided to have a double mastectomy which was scheduled 4weeks after I completed my chemotherapy. After a couple of months of healing, I scheduled my radiation treatment with Dr. Alahi – 5 days a week for 6 and one half weeks. After several more months of healing, I scheduled my plastic surgery with Dr. Willian Carpenter.
For one year and two months, my walk towards healing was complete. I shouted Hallelujah, giving praise unto God. I left the infusion room to the sound of applause, December 31, 2012 after my last round of a new protocol of herceptin, an antibody therapy.
In times of trouble, love is what you hold on to, giving you strength and hope. My band of angels lifted my spirit with cards, flowers, phone calls, prayer groups, and simple touches of caring. My constant during this time was my husband and even now, I know in my heart, our love is strengthened, by our walk towards healing.
I began a new walk today after two years of being in remission. By helping others begin their walk towards healing, I can continue my walk towards helping others heal.