HERStory

My Cancer Journey – “To God Be the Glory” …….

When I think of triple negative breast cancer, I remember the words of a gospel song, “The Battle is not yours, it’s the Lords.  When my Mother went home to be with the Lord at the age of thirty from leukemia, I was six years old.  As I got older and understood her health issues, the fear of dying haunted me.  On my thirty-first birthday, I celebrated because I outlived my fear of dying at age thirty.

Unfortunately, yet fortunate because of early detection, approximately three months after my thirty-first birthday, I noticed what appeared to be a blood stain in my bra.   In March 1981, I was diagnosed with intraductal carcinoma with micro-invasion which resulted in surgery for a right breast mastectomy.  At this time I was pregnant with my son.  My doctor recommended we abort the pregnancy and wait five years to become pregnant.  For personal reasons, I decided against abortion and continued with my pregnancy.  I recall my doctor saying “if in nineteen years, the cancer doesn’t reoccur, I will be happy that you had the baby”.

In July 2016, I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.  My doctor’s previous statement immediately flashed in my mind.  The fear had grown more intense because within the thirty-five years from my first breast cancer diagnosis, two of my mother’s sisters died from cancer as well as one of their daughters.  Furthermore, two of their other daughters were diagnosed with cancer.  In addition, my father’s sister and niece were also diagnosed with breast cancer.  My greatest fear is the unknown concerning triple negative breast cancer and the vast difference between it and other breast cancers.  I am also concerned about my daughter because she is considered high risk.

On August 23, 2016, I had my second mastectomy.  Following surgery, my treatment plan consisted of sixteen doses of chemotherapy and thirty-one radiation treatments.  After my first chemo treatment, I had to go to the Emergency Room due to excruciating pain.  I felt like I didn’t have the strength to survive chemo.  I called my sister Shirley for prayer and strength.  I told her I didn’t think I could get through chemo.  Shirley prayed for me and told me to put my health issues in God’s hands and “to look to the hills from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the Lord. “

The chemo treatments of Cytoxan and Adriamycin were bi-weekly.  After each treatment, all I could do was stay in bed and cry.  I was so sick, I felt death was a better option.  I lost my hair and strength during the first phase of chemo but the Lord restoreth my soul.  During my last chemo treatment, I recall telling Sarah, my favorite nurse I wanted to get a small tattoo but was scared.  Sarah responded your first four chemo treatments are called the Red Devil, you survived them, you can get a tattoo.

Post chemotherapy, I began radiation treatments.  Radiation burns the area being treated and drains most of your energy but after chemotherapy, it was a much easier treatment.

Through this fight with cancer, God blessed me with the opportunity to be introduced to Love Congo, a young lady diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.  Love became my rock and my inspiration to fight this disease with all my strength.  On June 24, 2018, my sixty-eighth birthday, Love stepped out of this life into eternity.  Love’s departure hurt more than words can express.  She exemplified strength, courage, kindness, and her smile radiated like the sun.  The love she showed others gave me hope.  To watch a person go through the last stages of cancer is painful to witness, especially when you are battling the same disease.  I believe Love had the fight and strength only God could provide.  I thank God I was able to meet her and I had the strength to be a part of her support team.  Love is one of my angels that watches over me.

Losing my Mother to cancer at age six left an indescribable void in my life.  Being pregnant, diagnosed with cancer and having a total right mastectomy at the age of thirty-one was devastating.  Being cancer free on my son’s nineteen birthday was one of the happiest days of my life.  In 2016, being diagnosed with breast cancer a second time was shocking.  Watching my daughter cry when the doctor told me it was triple negative breast cancer and the unknown about the disease sent fearful thoughts through my mind.  However, whenever fear rears its ugly head I remember these words, “Fear is Faith-Evicted-Annihilated-Repeatedly”.  I read Isiah 53:5, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.”  A calmness and peace comes over me and I can hear Love saying “Pam, I am not giving up.”  My response is “Love, neither am I.” However, with everything I endure, my strength comes from faith in God, support from my family, friends, sorority sisters, my medical psychologist and the triple negative support group.  My support team provides the love, kindness and caring that I need to survive.

When I think of triple negative breast cancer, I remember the words of a gospel song, “The Battle is not yours, it’s the Lords.  When my Mother went home to be with the Lord at the age of thirty from leukemia, I was six years old.  As I got older and understood her health issues, the fear of dying haunted me.  On my thirty-first birthday, I celebrated because I outlived my fear of dying at age thirty.

Unfortunately, yet fortunate because of early detection, approximately three months after my thirty-first birthday, I noticed what appeared to be a blood stain in my bra.   In March 1981, I was diagnosed with intraductal carcinoma with micro-invasion which resulted in surgery for a right breast mastectomy.  At this time I was pregnant with my son.  My doctor recommended we abort the pregnancy and wait five years to become pregnant.  For personal reasons, I decided against abortion and continued with my pregnancy.  I recall my doctor saying “if in nineteen years, the cancer doesn’t reoccur, I will be happy that you had the baby”.

In July 2016, I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.  My doctor’s previous statement immediately flashed in my mind.  The fear had grown more intense because within the thirty-five years from my first breast cancer diagnosis, two of my mother’s sisters died from cancer as well as one of their daughters.  Furthermore, two of their other daughters were diagnosed with cancer.  In addition, my father’s sister and niece were also diagnosed with breast cancer.  My greatest fear is the unknown concerning triple negative breast cancer and the vast difference between it and other breast cancers.  I am also concerned about my daughter because she is considered high risk.

On August 23, 2016, I had my second mastectomy.  Following surgery, my treatment plan consisted of sixteen doses of chemotherapy and thirty-one radiation treatments.  After my first chemo treatment, I had to go to the Emergency Room due to excruciating pain.  I felt like I didn’t have the strength to survive chemo.  I called my sister Shirley for prayer and strength.  I told her I didn’t think I could get through chemo.  Shirley prayed for me and told me to put my health issues in God’s hands and “to look to the hills from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the Lord. “

The chemo treatments of Cytoxan and Adriamycin were bi-weekly.  After each treatment, all I could do was stay in bed and cry.  I was so sick, I felt death was a better option.  I lost my hair and strength during the first phase of chemo but the Lord restoreth my soul.  During my last chemo treatment, I recall telling Sarah, my favorite nurse I wanted to get a small tattoo but was scared.  Sarah responded your first four chemo treatments are called the Red Devil, you survived them, you can get a tattoo.

Post chemotherapy, I began radiation treatments.  Radiation burns the area being treated and drains most of your energy but after chemotherapy, it was a much easier treatment.

 

Through this fight with cancer, God blessed me with the opportunity to be introduced to Love Congo, a young lady diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.  Love became my rock and my inspiration to fight this disease with all my strength.  On June 24, 2018, my sixty-eighth birthday, Love stepped out of this life into eternity.  Love’s departure hurt more than words can express.  She exemplified strength, courage, kindness, and her smile radiated like the sun.  The love she showed others gave me hope.  To watch a person go through the last stages of cancer is painful to witness, especially when you are battling the same disease.  I believe Love had the fight and strength only God could provide.  I thank God I was able to meet her and I had the strength to be a part of her support team.  Love is one of my angels that watches over me.

Losing my Mother to cancer at age six left an indescribable void in my life.  Being pregnant, diagnosed with cancer and having a total right mastectomy at the age of thirty-one was devastating.  Being cancer free on my son’s nineteen birthday was one of the happiest days of my life.  In 2016, being diagnosed with breast cancer a second time was shocking.  Watching my daughter cry when the doctor told me it was triple negative breast cancer and the unknown about the disease sent fearful thoughts through my mind.  However, whenever fear rears its ugly head I remember these words, “Fear is Faith-Evicted-Annihilated-Repeatedly”.  I read Isiah 53:5, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.”  A calmness and peace comes over me and I can hear Love saying “Pam, I am not giving up.”  My response is “Love, neither am I.” However, with everything I endure, my strength comes from faith in God, support from my family, friends, sorority sisters, my medical psychologist and the triple negative support group.  My support team provides the love, kindness and caring that I need to survive.