Sheila Garlington

In the years leading up to February of 2000 I found myself in a place of spiritual, emotional, and physical weakness. Unbeknownst to me, I was in the midst of a life altering transformation. As a person who likes to take the lead in all situations, I never stopped to ask questions about this lump forming and growing in my left breast. I assumed it was a cyst or as a result of a vigorous work out routine I had embarked on.

After a year of this lump growing larger and frankly, becoming a hindrance, I made an appointment with my OBGYN. That Monday morning as I sat being examined by the nurse practitioner and being questioned about the length of time I’d had this lump, I recall thinking: “Could this be serious?”

Now, the signs were there. My sister Charlene, who is six years my senior, had developed breast cancer at this age with a similar experience. She went in for an exam on Tuesday and by Friday of the same week she was in surgery having a mastectomy of her left breast. This was followed by radiation and medication.

So as the APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse) continued my exam, she said that I needed to go to another office for a mammogram and then an ultrasound. Like my sister, by Friday, I was in surgery having a lumpectomy, after being diagnosed with early stage 3 breast cancer.

Absolute shock set in and I began my routine of denial. I know that I received intensive chemotherapy for three months, followed by six weeks of radiation. Aside from that, this time period became a blur. I was fortunate enough to have the love and support of my family, in particular, my children and my mother who came up from Virginia to be with me.

As I continued on in this journey, my sister read the scripture (at right) to me. What a loving, humbling, lesson. From that day till now, I strive to recall to mind and heart that I must rely upon Jehovah for guidance and understanding. This is the path to full spiritual, emotional and physical recovery.

And so here I stand, nine years out and continuing to gain strength in all ways. Thanks be to God!


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