Strength, courage, faith and hope
Having breast cancer was truly the most challenging battle I have fought. However, with the support of my family, friends, co-workers and through my faith in God, I have become a survivor.
I hope to use my experience with breast cancer to help others and move one step closer to a cure.
I was diagnosed with HER2/neu breast cancer on Dec. 29, 2009. (Editor’s note: HER2/neu is caused by the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 protein. The cancer cells have mutated from an excess of the HER2 protein. It is an aggressive form of cancer.)
From that day on my life changed. I have always exercised, lived a healthy lifestyle and did not know what I did wrong. I didn’t do anything wrong. Cancer doesn’t discriminate.
On Jan 5, 2010, I had a lumpectomy (surgery, lump taken out and several lymph nodes removed). Remember I have always exercised, had to be off work for two weeks, but I was not sick, I found a lump (cancer). I was cut in breast and underarm. I still worked out, did not raise my arm, and lifted small weights, handgrips, walked outside and on treadmill. I did not know what else to do. My attitude was positive.
After a consultation with the oncologist, a treatment plan was worked out. A treatment was given every three weeks.
I was told by the nurse to keep doing what I was doing — exercising and staying positive.
On Feb. 2, 2010, I received my port. This is how I would get all my treatments.
On Feb. 4, I received my first treatment. I cried when I went in there. I was nervous and scared, but I knew God was right there beside me and God would guide me through this.
I did not know what to expect. I stayed positive. I was not sick. I found a lump. I still worked my full-time job at Hospice of Chattanooga. I am a facility and fleet management coordinator.
The chemo did not make me sick. I did experience chemo brain. I would get chemo on Thursday. Friday I was OK. Saturday I would get a shot to boost up immune system. Sunday morning, I went to church. Sunday after church chemo brain hit me. I would take off work on Monday and Tuesday, and back to work on Wednesday.
Before my second treatment, I lost my hair. I had a great hair dresser who cut my hair super short (wig ordered). I went to work on Tuesday and Wednesday with super short hair and came back on Friday with a wig that looked great, beautiful color. Everyone loved my hair and cut. I went with it. A few people knew, but some did not.
Now I tell people God blessed me with all new hair. It is only eight years old.
Remember, I was not sick. I found a lump — positive attitude.
I had six treatments. I will be honest, I did not want to do five and six, but the inner strength God give you is amazing. I made it through all the treatments, working my full-time job, exercising not as hard as I do now, but I kept moving and making health food choices. It really works.
Always remember your mind controls your body, it really does. Listen to your body rest when you need to rest. I am not a nap person, so when I needed to rest I would close my eyes for about 45 minutes relaxing my body, then I would get up, get my iPod and go for a walk. The presence of God was so good. God guided me on my walks — remember my body was tried, but I made it.
In June and July 2010 — after chemo was radiation. The 38 treatments were at 8 a.m. Monday through Friday every day for 38 days before work. My body was tired from the chemo, so I didn’t notice the fatigue form radiation. On the last week, I did get burned on my back.
Remember, I was not sick. I found a lump.
In September 2010, I was a Miss May 2011 in the MaryEllen Locher Foundation calendar. The photo was taken when my body had gone through all the treatments. I was a person in a different body.
With the help from God, family, friends and co-workers, I made it through that chapter of my life.
Strength. Courage. Faith. And Hope! We serve an Almighty God!
The last 3 years God has put many people (going through cancer and life changing events) in front of me to minister to about God’s faithfulness.
God has opened so many doors for me. I have so many God stories that I share.
I am a firm believer in a healthy lifestyle. I want people to know there is life after cancer.
In 2017, I became an instructor at the Y. I am a sub (fill in if needed), also I am certified to lead the LiveSTRONG program. The first program was in March 2019, and the fall program started Aug. 26, 2019. I really enjoy this program and the connection I have with the people is amazing. I can relate to what they are going through, because I have been there.
I thank God every day for my hair and my health. God has given me a second chance. I am going with it.
I have been at my weakest point and I don’t ever want to get to that point ever again; yes, I push myself every day to be the best person I can be. God has given me the strength to be strong in mind, body and spirit.
Psalms 118:24: “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
(Editor’s note: LiveSTRONG at the YMCA is for “those who are living with, through, or beyond cancer to regain strength and connect with other cancer survivors.”
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