Breast Cancer: Facing the Giant

 

In a person’s life time there are many life changing events.  For my life it included marrying my high school sweetheart, being blessed with two amazing sons who were also blessed with the “tall gene” and talent to play basketball, and the biggest one of all being is diagnosed with CANCER.  Upon my many roles in life, I never thought “Cancer Survivor” would be a label I wear proudly and would be a major part of who I am. 

  Even though several very close members of my family had died from cancer, my life as I knew it would change forever when I received a call from my primary doctor in February of 2012.  While checking my voicemail messages on Feb. 16, I heard my doctor’s voice saying Mrs. Nixon, “when you get this message please give me a call at home.” 

I immediately thought, What doctor gives you his home number unless what he has to tell you is MAJOR. As I rode in the car with my husband and mother-in-law enroute to my eldest son high-school basketball game, I held my breath as I dialed my doctor’s number.  The three words that resonated so loudly, even now, is “You have cancer”!

My breath was suspended temporarily as I let those very shocking words sink into my brain. All I could think about was, “But I am on the way to my son’s basketball game, what do you mean I have cancer.”  Well, I thought I said that out loud but really I didn’t.  It was a conversation I was having with myself inside my brain that suddenly was running a hundred miles an hour. He also said that he’d made an appointment for me first thing Monday morning to see an oncologist. I knew what an oncologist was since I had lost my mom to lung cancer in 1997 and my brother-in-law to lung cancer in 2003 and because my sister had breast cancer in 2002. In my mind, my mom and brother-in-law’s battles with cancer ended in them losing and I did not want to lose my battle.

In the weeks to come, I met with three of my personal oncologists; my medical oncologist, my surgery oncologist and my radiation oncologist. While I was not at all vain nor amused that I was in such “high demand,” I was very clear that I was prepared to battle cancer to the best of my abilities. After all, just when I thought I had accepted this thing called diabetes, I was diagnosed with cancer.

I was at a loss at how and why were these two, major life-changing events were invading my life.  However, little did I know I would come to experience so many emotions including frustration, anger, inspiration and appreciation for having made this journey.

I have not met many cancer survivors who can say they appreciated what having cancer did for them personally, but I am.  Within three weeks of being diagnosed with cancer, I received a spiritual message, I feel, that was directing me to write a book about my cancer experience. Ironically, the title given to me was “A Life Changing Event: My Cancer Journey”. 

My first of 33 ½ radiation sessions was scary and overwhelming. I felt a wave of emotions that I had to manage both giants. There were times after my surgery and during my lengthy treatment phase that I would say, “I didn’t ask for any of this.” Managing the pain of surgery, the fear and uncertainty of radiation treatments and related effects was a lot for a person to have to deal with.

As I journeyed through surgery, six and half weeks of radiation (five days a week, every day) and five years of medication treatment that just ended in August, I realized that I am now stronger having survived the journey.  I recall how because of cancer, I met the most phenomenal and inspiring people. 

I became a part of a community of women with cancer who bonded on basic things such as faith, a desire to fight cancer, a desire to not give up, believed we would enjoy many years of life and above all accepting the support and compassion we each felt every day we showed up for radiation treatment.

During this journey, I met women who were aware, without any doubt, that they met their heavenly angel assigned to them to help them through the journey. I met a male cancer survivor that changed my understanding that cancer has no face and it is not partial to race or gender. My new cancer survivor community desired to achieve and retain the label of “cancer survivor,” whether male or female. 

I am proud today to say I am a five-year cancer survivor and I am blessed to have experienced the support and comradery along the way of so many strong and inspirational people.  While I have not seen, or talked to the people I met along my journey, I know that a community of survivors exists, that I’ve faced the giant and I’m still here. 

Presented by: Loretta Moore-Nixon 

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  • This is wonderful.  I just had a bi-lateral mastectomy and have 5 years of hormornal therapy.  My cancer was caught early and had not spread into my lymph nodes.  They took out my sentinal node and a few others around and tested.  I feel very thankful for life.  I still hurt and am very tired, but am back at work, counting down the days  of the 5 years.  I am also waiting on my genetics test to come back for BRCA.  Your artical has inspired me to reach out to a survivors community. Thank you