New York New York..,,the 14 day trip that saved my life.
Miracles do happen.
Looking back now, I can only imagine how my life could have turned out differently, had I not persevered with my friend booking the flight. I had many problems with arranging the flight and I had almost decided not go to, however, my daughters prompted me to persevere and after much struggle the trip was finally booked.
After landing in New York Monday Oct 23rd 2009, I attended a convocation. Every night the hall was overflowing with people, but on the Thursday night, the Minister came directly to me within the mass crowd and laid his hand in my left hand and prayed for me.
The following morning, after showering I found a bruise the size of a golf ball on my right breast, which was very strange because I didn't recall hurting myself over the past few days. This led me to start feeling both breasts and this is where I discovered a lump in my left breast. Family members at this point might have suspected that something wasn't right, but I had no knowledge of breast cancer, or the symptoms associated with it. Thinking it was a side effect from a tablet I was taking for a knee injury, I continued with my holiday.
Come Friday afternoon, I started experiencing relentless pain from the bruised breast. It drove me to get pain tablets from my sister-in-law to calm down the discomfort. Then upon visiting my sister, now two days after the bruise and lump appeared, I was in excruciating pain, this time I was worried of what's happening to me she nearly took me to the hospital but I still didn't know what it possibly could have been, so she went upstairs and rang my niece who's a doctor.
She gave me some stronger pain tablets which reduces the pain. She realised that I had no clue what the bruise and lump was. So she approached the subject by asking,
"When was the last time you had a mammogram?"
A mammogram I asked? I had no clue once again.
The flight back was a blur, all I remember was the agony, pain,confusion and fear I felt because i didn't know what was happening to me but my faith in God
kept me sane and in peace .
My sister implored me to go to the doctor as soon as I arrived back in England and that's the first thing I did.
After disembarking and rushing to A&E straight from the airport I was baffled as to why the doctor was so calm, only saying that I should book an appointment with my GP. So I did just that from the hospital bed.
It was the quickest appointment I have ever received to see my GP. I was referred immediately to The Nightingale Centre for another appointment.
November 9, 2009, the day my world changed. I went for that appointment alone at Nightingale, ignorant as ever, unprepared for the events that were to unfold. I did 3 sets of biopsies which was very painful because the medical team wasn't getting enough sample plus other tests and was told to come back in at 2pm for some of the results...which I did...still alone and I'll never forget that day! I was told that I had cancer I was only 44 yrs old.
Initially I was calm but once I began to comprehend the magnitude of the situation plus the amount of information I was getting it felt more real and panic began to sets in, my three daughters were young at the time, two was a teenager then and the youngest was just in year three I was so so scared, terrified and frightened for my children then but just thinking of them I fight through in my spirit from the strength of God.
From this point on everything happened quite quickly. I went back on Nov 12th for the final results which confirmed stage 2 aggressive breast cancer. Two surgeries were performed on different dates - a lumpectomy then clearance of my lymph nodes. Throughout this whole experience I had been in an abusive marriage and I had never felt more scared and alone.
Christmas eve of 2009 was when I was discharged from hospital from the second surgery which I started then to experience excruciating pain from fluid built up under my armpit I had to go hospital each time to get it drained. I then started chemotherapy in March 2010, 2 weeks before my 45th birthday, all the way up to June. It made me extremely ill after every treatment which cause me to be in and out of hospital, on one occasion I had blood cloth in my lungs and was in hospital for 5 days doing rigorous tests I was scared and frightened but God kept me sane again.
In August I had radiotherapy that entire month. I'm still taking medications, including tamoxifen which comes with it's own side effects, both treatments left me with numerous long term side effects which I'm still under care for. I've got fantastic care each time from the entire medical teams thank you all.
My journey is still not over. I have since left the abusive marriage since it hindered my recovery then. I have found support from friends and family and I have learnt to put life into perspective and enjoy every second because I am more than a cancer survivor.