Joyce Becton Best

I was born in Fort Benning, Georgia. I have lived in Europe and various states, as I grew up in an Army family, married into the Air Force and worked for 30 years as a civilian with the Army & Air Force Exchange Service. I currently live in Alexandria, Virginia and have a daughter, Jocelyn, 22.

The year-2010 was supposed to be the best year of my life, as I would celebrate my 30th anniversary with TheExchange Service and retire. However I was abruptly reminded that there is a higher being that orders our steps.

My journey started August 31, 2010 after a routine mammogram. At 10:20 that morning my husband & I were told “the biopsy shows breast cancer.” This news did not hit as a total surprise as my oldest sister had been diagnosed with breast cancer two years earlier. She had a lumpectomy, radiation and was on a 5-year treatment plan with Arimidex.What surprised me was the fact that I was diagnosed with a different type of breast cancer – the most aggressive withthe highest rate of re occurrence  and no meds to take after treatment — triple negative breast cancer!

Today I am much stronger than I was that day because of my faith, my family, my friends and the power of prayer!After diagnosis, the medical team who coordinated my care at Walter Reed Medical Center met with my supportteam (my husband, Art; my Mom, Louise Becton; my Sister, Renee Strickland) and me. We decided that although it was a very aggressive type of breast cancer, it was still in the early stage and that we could opt for a lumpectomy which was performed on September 22, 2010.  When we met with my oncologist after surgery, he identified a treatment plan that included: (1) 26 weeks of chemotherapy administered every other week over 14 weeks, then weekly for 12 weeks under a clinical trial program; (2) six weeks of daily radiation; (3) PRAYER!

In all my years dealing with military doctors, I have never had one include prayer as part of the treatment plan! The right people are always put in our path.

Truthfully, I was overwhelmed by my diagnosis and the proposed treatment plan. My comfort zone and my planswere turned upside down. I felt my world was spinning out of control. I admit that I had a pity party. I asked“why me?”  Then, I stopped and realized that maybe I had been moving too fast in life to hear God’s specialmessage to me.

After sharing my diagnosis with my church family at Antioch Baptist Church in Fairfax, Virginia, I was told bymy Deacon to remember: “I am human, tears will fall and that is ok; but to turn it over to God, for he is ultimatelyin control”.

On the first chemotherapy session, I knew it was not going to be a good day when there were problems gettingmy port implanted. After they stuck me four times trying to find a vein to get the IV started. I was ready to walkout. My sister put her hand on my arm and one of the nurses said: “everyone just STOP and let’s say a prayer.”Stick number 5 worked!

The 26 weeks of chemo that followed was the hardest thing that I had ever done! I experienced all of the dreaded side effects – lost hair, lost a sense of taste, lost nails, memory loss, nausea that seemed to go on forever and a total lack of energy. I became so apprehensive about further treatments that I was given a sedative to take before each treatment. M y sister provided me with two scriptures that I would read each night before treatment.

PETER 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

PSALM 34:4 “I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”

I had chemo on Monday or Tuesday, so by Sunday, I was functioning at 50% and felt the need to be a part of thecorporate worship. Midway through my chemo, I was tired mentally, physically and spiritually. I was tired of doctors and nurses. I was tired of the side effects. I was tired of not being able to “do it myself”. The sermon that Sunday was “Preparing for the big game… be an expector;  expect to win and expect to be used by God”. It struck me that my tests were preparing me for my testimony!

My last chemotherapy treatment was April 12, 2011. My last radiation treatment was June 27, 2011. Most effectsfrom my treatments are no longer with me. All tests continue to come back clear!

I truly thank God for the prayers offered for me by those known and unknown to me.I thank God for the peoplethat he has put in my path. I have met incredible women during this journey. We have shared stories. We haveshed tears for those we lost. We were and continue to be strengthened by the sharing of our faith and prayers.

I pray that all women are encouraged to do self exams and continue to get Mammograms! They do save lives!!!

I believe that everything in our lives is guided by the ultimate purpose of our lives. I talk freely about my survival because I pray that I can pass on the hope that was provided to me by breast cancer survivor Joyce Shambley. Don’t get me wrong, everyday is not a wonderful day after a cancer diagnosis. I am a believer. I am a cancer survivor. I am human and there are those days that I do not want to smile just to make those around me feel better about my cancer and there are those days when worry of re-occurrence creeps into my routine. On those days, I tell myself that that is normal, that I know that he will never forsake me and I reach out to one of my fellow survivors. We share concerns, shed a tear or two and then I thank God for traveling this incredible journey with me!

As I go through life now, I am strengthened by fellow survivors that I meet wherever I go. A cancer diagnosischanges you, it does not defeat you, it makes you realize what really matters in life is not the job title or the job,but how you live your life. I believe the story of our journey becomes a testimony of how great God is!My outlook for the future was posted on my Facebook page on the one-year anniversary of my diagnosis “Watchout world, Joyce is on a mission guided by My Lord and Savior. I cannot wait to see what the next years hold instore for me.”

God Bless You All!!!!!joyce becton best


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