In January 2017, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am a woman of faith; therefore, at first those words did not scare me at all. I was completely trusting that God would take care of me through the journey. During the next few days, my husband called every breast cancer facility in Long Island only to find out that no one took our insurance. A friend recommended doctors in Mount Sinai Hospital and she got us an appointment right away with them. It was a God thing because they had every type of doctor needed in one building. My husband and I met with the surgeon and immediately right after with the oncologist. As I sat in her office listening to her going through the recommended treatment and the whole list of side effects from Chemotherapy, I was filled with fear and an emotional distress I had never felt before. I always dislike taking any type of pills so I knew my body would not react well to cancer treatment. I was told I had the most aggressive type of breast cancer; therefore I needed the most aggressive chemo treatment available right away. The first chemo I was to receive, Adriamycin, is nicknamed ‘The Red Devil’ (AC). It is a red liquid, which not many people tolerate. The recommended treatment of the AC was one every 2 weeks and then a different chemo, Toxyl, with two other chemos, Herzeptin and Perjeta, once a week for 12 weeks, which had their own list of side effects. After the 12 weeks, I was to stay with the last two for a year.
As I prepared for this journey, I called a family meeting with my husband and my four children; we talked and I had each one of them pray over me. Then I did the same with my church family, we met and we prayed. It brought such comfort because I felt everyone’s love and support as I embarked on a journey that no one ever thinks or expects to go through.
The first day of chemo was February 22, 2017, on my dad’s birthday. I was crying throughout the whole four hours. It takes that long because it has to go slowly as they add steroids, Benadryl (in case of allergic reactions), and fluids. Besides not been able to sleep because of the steroids, the first two days were fine, however, on the third day it hit me. My body was in shock for the rest of the five months. The thing is that there are some side effects that the doctors do not tell you because they have not experienced it themselves. Therefore, as time goes by, you learn more information from other women who have gone through the journey before and from your own experience. I did find out later on that the chemo treatment is cumulative, so the more treatments I got the more my body reacted.
Throughout this journey, I saw the hand of God covering me. He did so many miracles for me. One of them was that instead of getting 4 treatments of the AC, ‘the red devil’, the doctor cut the last one out. It was something I had asked God to do for me. Another huge miracle was that He took care of my heart. One of the side effects from all the chemo and the extra medicines was heart damage. At one point, I was admitted to the hospital because the doctors said I had had a heart attack, however, a day later they said that had not been the case. I was so thankful because God kept His promise that He would take care of my heart and my heart is healthy.
I felt a lot of despair, however, there were so many people that would call, text, or email me saying they were praying for me, I mean, even people I did not know would message to encourage me. That was just so amazing to know that God got people from everywhere to show me such love and support. I felt God’s love for me through all these amazing people. I received meals every day, visitors, people would drop off gifts, lovely cards filled my mailbox every week, etc. The amazing thing is that people also acted in an honoring way; what I mean is, when you are not feeling well, there are just some things you do not want to hear, like: “you don’t have enough faith”, “you need to be strong”, or “I understand what you’re feeling” (when they have not gone through it themselves). No, each one of them always spoke encouraging, supporting words filled with compassion.
I have learned many things through breast cancer journey; I know that I am not only a survivor but I am more than a conqueror, I am victorious and I am stronger than I could have ever imagined. People constantly told me, “You’re so strong”. The truth is that I did not feel strong at all, on the contrary, I felt very weak. However, what they meant was that, even though I was constantly crying and afraid because of the pain, I kept running the race, I would get up every morning, continue with the treatments, would smile when they visited me, and did not complain as if life owed me something. I learned that life is so fragile and as long as we have the people we love and who loves us around us, we can conquer anything and everything else will work itself out. There is a verse in the Bible that says God takes care of the birds in the air, so how much more will He take care of us who are His children. Yes, He took care of me in more ways that I could count.
Collage of many who supported me
throughout the journey by wearing pink
everyday I received transfusion for 5 months.
I was never forgotten.
Created by my niece, Haddassah, nephew, Moses, and daughter Raquel.