Jennifer F. Johnson
My journey with breast cancer started in March 2011. My life came to a screeching halt, and suddenly I was forced to prioritize my life to accommodate for major changes ahead. I felt betrayed by my body and powerless! All I wanted was the cancer out! Cancer is a life-changing occurrence. The emotional and psychological scarring is almost as bad as the physical scarring.
I chose to be private during my diagnosis – only talking to my immediate family, immediate supervisor and a small circle of close friends who all were very supportive and prayerful. The most difficult part was telling my parents. I had more life to live with my family. After learning of my diagnosis, their concern quickly shifted and they became over-protective. I
was the first in my family to experience breast cancer. Before treatment began, I found myself questioning “why me?” and “what did I do to deserve this?” I felt like giving up, but I prayed the prayer of faith.
I started taking a daily chemotherapy medication pill regimen (Xeloda) just to function and continue working. I was told I needed four chemo treatments, radiation and two years of hormonal treatment. I wasn’t very receptive to those suggestions but I had to come to terms with the hand God dealt me.
The doctors said that most patients’ biggest concern is hair loss. Mine was my quality of life. I wanted to continue to be as active as I always was. I didn’t want to depend on anyone to take care of me and I wanted to continue to live life as I always had.
The doctors were very optimistic that I’d be able to do all of what I was used to doing. Unfortunately, they were wrong! I experienced vomiting, nausea, fatigue, headaches, achiness and other possible side effects associated with chemo and radiation. Fourteen days after my first treatment, I began to lose my hair. Tears began to run down my face and reality then set in. It
was incredibly dramatic and heartbreaking watching as my hair fell out every time I combed it. I had thick shoulder-length hair prior to starting chemo. and by the time chemo was complete, I was practically bald. Thank goodness for wigs and weaves!
I finally had lumpectomy surgery on both my left and right breast and had nodes removed. This journey with the diagnosis of cancer has truly been a testament to my faith in God. Today, I live to say that I trust Him even more now than I did before and I know He is a healer. He healed my body. It is a life altering process to be diagnosed, but God has promised me life and I believe Him.
Since my illness, I accept every opportunity to learn whatever I can about breast cancer – the causes, possible prevention, and how to help others going through this illness as I did. I have learned that it is very important to talk to your family and friends for support and not shut down. No one should go through this illness alone. I was determined to stay positive and live my life while battling cancer.
I remain determined to stay positive and live every day of my life to the fullest. I am grateful for the lessons that cancer has taught me. “For all things I have strength by virtue of Him who imparts power in me:” Philippians 4:13.
Discipline is one of the basic dynamics in life needed to acquire and accomplish a better quality of life. Discipline coupled with three other dynamic elements were the keys that got me through my bout with this disease.
Number 1 was my faith in God who was the chief medical physician over an assorted team of doctors and surgeons. Number 2 was the discipline and willingness that was exemplified by my family, friends and coworkers, which reinforced Number 3, my strength and desire to continue to fight a good fight and never give up. That fight will forever burn in my spirit. These are
the basic dynamics that served as my guide through the bout with cancer. I am a Survivor. I will never give up