I am currently the founder and executive director of a faith-based ministry to homeless women and their children and oversee a 45,000 square foot living and learning center where women change their lives, finish their education, and become productive and awesome mothers. I found a lump in June of 1987. The doctor said it was nothing, and a mammogram showed nothing. We checked it six weeks later, and at my insistence, he sent me to surgeon who also agreed it was nothing.
Six weeks later I insisted on a biopsy; it was malignant. The subsequent mastectomy revealed a second tumor had invaded the chest wall, and I had 17 positive lymph nodes of the 22 they removed. My oncologist told me no breast cancer patient he can find has lived this long with 17 positive lymph nodes. He said my survival is a miracle and I know it is true .
I had nine months of adriamycin, 5-FU, and cytoxan, which I learned later has caused cardiomyopathy. I was taken off all hormones at diagnosis, went through immediate menopause, and lost all my hair. Six months into treatment, my mother died. She and my husband were my caregivers, so it was a very hard year. I had reconstructive surgery in October of 1988 because I had committed that cancer could only have one year of my life and I was determined for it to be so. My personal journey was a walk of faith with the support of my husband, family, and friends. I continue this walk of faith in my ministry to women and children in need.
I learned that doctors are not in charge of our death date! God has a plan for each of us and it is His timing that is real! Each time I went for chemo, I dressed to the nines. The nurse asked me if I felt as good as I looked or not. I told her I believed you should dress for how you want to be perceived and I was "faking it until I made it!" I have a deeper appreciation for life and an urgency to make mine count. I am not about doing those things that are fleeting or useless. I want to make a difference in this world and know that when I do leave, I will have contributed to others.
Know your own body. You are ultimately in charge of communicating to the medical community what is going on with your body and what you want and need. Take ownership of your own health. Ask God to direct and then stand your ground. Your doctor is only the technician in your health; he is not omnipotent and we should never think doctors are. They do well and are great, but they do not know how you are really doing and we are generally poor communicators with them. My surgeon finally thanked me for standing my ground because I would have died if I had let them make all the decisions. Nevertheless, I found a miracle!