My journey began the year I turned 50 years young. In January 2012 I felt a tiny lump in my left breast. I immediately asked my husband if he could feel it as well, which he did. Although he assured me that it was probably nothing, we both thought it best for me to go check it out. My mammogram had been normal the prior year.
My OB/GYN referred me to her breast surgeon, Dr. Anty Demestihas, who sent me for an ultrasound and a mammogram. The results showed a small cyst, so she suggested a follow up ultrasound and mammogram in six months. At that time, we all thought everything was ok, especially since my family did not have a history of cancer. The follow up showed nothing but the same cyst in the same place. All was well.
Four months later, my life was forever changed when I woke up and my breast was inflamed, swollen and warm to the touch where the cyst once was. I reached out to Dr. Demestihas, who sent me to St. Vincent’s Hospital immediately for an ultrasound and mammogram. This time I knew something was wrong. After waiting for what seemed like a lifetime, the radiologist said, “You need to follow up with your doctor immediately. We have already notified her and she will schedule a biopsy for you.”
On December 4, 2012 I received the call with the biopsy result. I can remember her exact words: “Adassa, my dear, I don’t have good news for you. You have breast cancer at the 4 and 8 o’clock in your left breast.” I had HER2 negative (stage 3C) aggressive breast cancer and it had spread to my lymph nodes. After the call, my husband held me, and we cried together and prayed. He said, “We will fight this together, you are not going to die.” I told the Lord that I would not worry because if
He brought me to this journey, He would take me through it. The hardest thing for me was telling my three children. My daughter’s and older son’s cries were heart breaking. My mom’s cry was the most painful. I had to convince her that I was going to be ok. I was more worried about my youngest son as he was only five years old at the time and my fear was leaving him.
After getting a second oncologist opinion, we decided to go with Dr. Kwok Ming Lo, MD at Stamford Bennett Cancer Center. My treatment consisted of eight weeks of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, eight weeks of radiation, followed by one year of Herceptin treatment. The chemo treatment was especially hard on my body with hair loss, mouth sores, blackening of my nails and
complexion, neuropathy in my feet, and body aches, just to name a few. But through it all there was God holding my hand. Each time I got in the car with my daughter on our way to Stamford for treatment, this song, “My God is Awesome” by Charles Jenkins, would be playing on the radio. It never failed. It was like God was talking to me. I had a 14-hour DIEP flap double mastectomy surgery and a week later while at home I had a pulmonary embolism and went through a six-hour surgery. The next day I had another pulmonary embolism and had to be rushed back to the operating room. Through it all my daily bread was Psalm 103: 1 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.”
I could not have fought and won this battle without my husband Lloyd, who asked every question, prepared every meal, held me up when I was too sick and took me to every doctor’s appointment; my daughter and son, who were there to help their dad take care of me; my parents who came up from New York every weekend; my brothers and sister-in-laws; and my dear sisters in Christ who prayed me through. I am forever grateful. I am now 10 years cancer free. To God be the Glory!