It was one of the biggest moments of uncertainty I had ever experienced. I could not imagine something being wrong with someone in my family. The word cancer associated with my sister. How can that be?? Millions of what will happen questions - who is going to make sure we have fun?? Who's going to take care of my niece and nephew - Antoine? Oh... my goodness!!! Why am I even having to think about this??? Oh, my sister - GOD SAVE HER - GOD KEEP HER - GOD WE NEED HER - GOD WE NEED HER! That became my personal quiet prayer to help me from losing my mind from fear and uncertainty. I had dealt with illness in my family - but, always knowing that they would be OK. My other sister Jackie had certainly dealt with some remarkable health issues - but, she was OK... will Denise? Ahh... What am I going to do? How will my parents manage this - oh??? But, we are FAMILY - we are STRONG - we will SURVIVE!! The song - I got all my sistah's with me! Yes - we are all here for Denise - so, she and we will survive!
I can only recall that my mind just never stopped asking questions - but, there was never any real answers. I just kept saying to myself - oh, she is going to be just fine because I don't have any answers. So there. I did not sleep well for many years. I remember in the hospital waiting for her to come out of surgery... my hair was WILD! I remember my sister fighting the anaesthesia - that so freaked me out! I also remember being very protective of my sister. I did not want anyone to say or do anything that would make her feel sad or scared. Especially, years after the surgery. I know that I would have ripped them apart. And, they better not say anything to Antoine, Shane or Heaven.
Hearing the word cancer in the same sentence with someone you love - is beyond painful.
I thought it was horrible with my sister - but, my Mommy. Well, that is just a completely different story. It is still hard to think about. But, the difference is that my sister - Denise was there to provide the answers for my mom that were not there when she was diagnosed. What a difference... I have my sisters with me!
Time is the difference. It is still an everyday battle of staying strong and staying focused. I would say that through this experience God and Love have kept me sane. I so very, very much love my family. And, I just give all my love to them everyday which I hope keeps them well.
I remember so clearly the day I stopped breathing. The world stopped, my hair stood on end and seemed to go gray that very moment. It seemed as if time stood still and the world was off its axis, Hell had frozen over and the fat lady was screaming inside my head instead of singing on a stage. I was frozen in my tracks for what seemed like hours, but in reality was only the longest 10 seconds of my life.
As soon as the handsome doctor said they'd found pre-cancerous cells in what was supposed to be a routine pap smear, my heart stopped. What does this mean, pre-cancerous? And what is this HPV he keeps talking about? How long before it would become post-cancerous? Was there such a thing as post-cancerous? God, I hoped so. And why couldn't he be an ugly doctor?
I stumbled out of his office in a haze after hearing him say something about burning, freezing and cauterizing my cervix, and if that didn't work, the dreaded H-word, hysterectomy. After phoning my husband with the bad news, the first call I made was to the Denise Roberts Breast Cancer Foundation. How fortuitous for me that Denise herself answered the phone.
She calmed me down and lifted me up at the same time. After all, she had been through much worse many, many years ago, and she was still here, wasn't she? She reminded me that she’s a survivor and assured me that I was, too.
Like my father before me who died of cancer, I devoured every piece of literature the internet had to offer. I found out that HPV, Human Papilloma Virus, the particular strain I had could be a pre-cursor to actual cancer if left alone, and that if you catch it in time with early detection, there are options, but the best thing for me, having two barely grown children, was to go on and have a hysterectomy. No uterus, no uterine or cervical cancer.
That was four years ago, and even though it seems I have preempted the cancer, from time to time I have to remind myself to breath, that every day is a gift of life.
There are few things in life I know for sure, but one of them is early detection is crucial. I tell all my friends to get annual cancer screenings. Do it on your birthday, just as I did. It was the best present I could have given myself.
Breast Cancer Survivor
By Christel Clarke
I was diagnosed with Invasive, Inflammatory Ductal Carcinoma, 2,5 cm tumor, already spread to glands under in arm- in May 2002 at age 34. My breast was warm, felt inflamed, i had a milky discharge and i felt a tumor. I was recommended mastectomy, removal of positive glands - with follow-up 12 chemo treatments and 30 local radiations.
I just want to say the following:
1. I have never used alcohol - not even socially
2. I have never smoked
3. I have never been overweight - i have weighed 50kg since i was 17 years old.
4. I have always been very active
5. I started my menstrual cycle at 14 years
6. I had my first baby at 22 years
7. I breast fed my first baby for 1 year and my second baby for 3 months, when i was 27 years old
1. I used a contraceptive, Diane, prescribed for acne since 18 years to 2002.(except for when i was pregnant/breastfeeding)- HORMONES!!
2. I am a type A/driven personality - and have experienced numerous traumatic things in my life. STRESS!!
In 2002 - I underwent a bilateral mastectomy - my decision. Subsequently I know that mastectomy does not increase your survival percentage. I finished 6 of the 12 chemo treatments.
Since, July 2002, I have not been back to an oncologist - and I do not advise this to everybody - my decision was to pray and put my faith in Jesus, change my diet - more fresh food/less sugar - I found peace in my faith for the first time in my life- and I kept on exercising - I do competitive kickboxing!!