There are events and situations which occur in your life that can forever change the trajectory of your life and story. Here is one of mine. Three months ago, I took a trip to visit my family in the USA. I had not seen them for over a year with the Covid-19 lockdown. On a Sunday evening in mid-January, I received the biopsy results from a lumpectomy that I had done in Haiti in December. It revealed that I had breast cancer. Before that, I had no indication that devastating changes were occurring in my body. My recent mammogram and sonogram never showed anything abnormal. While I had the seemingly benign lump removed from my breast, doctors claimed that it appeared to be hardened breast tissue. It never even manifested in medical screenings.
Learning that I had cancer was a hard punch to my gut. I was not expecting the news. Initially, I was in disbelief. I was feeling fine and had healed quickly from the lumpectomy procedure. I also do not have a history of breast cancer in my family, so could there have been a mistake?
In retrospect, there had been some days that I felt a little more tired than usual, but I am a super energetic and busy person who is a night owl and also an early riser. I am a mother of 3, a wife, and have five dogs who are also my children. I write a food blog which means that I am always cooking and baking as I write my cookbook. I am also an avid quilter and I spend a great deal of time cutting and piecing and sewing together my quilts and cushions. I have a full and busy life and my initial reaction was that I had no time in my life for this diagnosis.
As hard as the reality was to accept, I knew that I had no time to spare but had to get treatment as soon as possible. I cried my tears as I realized that my life as I lived it was on hold. I could not go back home to Haïti as I had planned. The following two months held many long, anxious days of making medical appointments, finding a good breast oncologist and surgical team with whom I felt comfortable. My body was subject to more biopsies, mammograms, sonograms, scans, and bloodwork. My torso and arms was black and blue with bruises from various procedures. The two months of tests and the excruciatingly painful anxiety of waiting on results to form a better picture to help determine the best way to proceed to treatment to save my life. However, during this time, my cancer was spreading to other areas and was showing up on new my screening. My case had become more complicated than the original diagnosis. I never imagined that 2021 would be my year of challenge, but I never want to let this be a challenge from which I back down. I had decided early from Day 2 of my diagnosis when I looked at myself in the mirror teary-eyed and said…” Sharon this is the fight of your life. Put on your armor and pick up your sword… you are now on the battlefield!“
Life is never easy, but it is truly what we make of it. I am so lucky to have a most amazing family. A husband that loves me, my 3 absolutely awesome children, parents who are caring for me, and my siblings who have rallied around me with loving support. My family and close friends reached out and have held me up with prayers, flowers, books, messages and have found so many unbelievable ways to show their support to me in this time of need. This support system has moved mountains and truly been a major force behind my positive outlook. I am so thankful to everyone who has been so instrumental in being part of my circle of love and support during this most difficult time and I love you all!! I fight hard every day and I know that my life in Haïti has built and enforced this strength and courage in the 31 years that I have lived there.
Today I have started my chemotherapy and although the road is long, I am a warrior and fighting every day to kick cancer’s butt!! I have so much left to do in my life and although there may be good and bad days ahead, I wake up every day with a positive attitude and with loving support. I dig deep to find my inner strength to keep fighting this battle against cancer. I am mostly upbeat but I also give myself permission to be sad on days when I don’t feel so great. It’s all part of the process, I am just human after all. But I don’t want negativity to overcome me. I remain fluid to accept news which I may not want to hear and remain open to new possibilities for my treatment. This is the nature of the game.
The moral of my story is to take care of your body, your mind, and your spirit. Don’t let negativity take you down. Life is so worth fighting for and I have seen that love and kindness can get you through some of the toughest moments in life. The power of prayer and placing your life in God’s hands is also a crucial part of my journey. I find solace and comfort in knowing that The Creator and Great Architect has a plan for me. If my story or experience can help anyone suffering from a similar diagnosis then I am warmed by that. Reach out to people you love and trust and don’t feel like you are alone. Even strangers in similar circumstances have so much experience and wisdom to offer. I have personally experienced this from wonderful and amazing cancer survivors who have reached out to me. Sharing your emotions can be such a release and help your healing process.
My journey is not over, but I am living one day at a time with hope until I can one day look back at this as a chapter in my book of life on survival and beating cancer.