I've always believed that we tend to be the most effective in areas where we have been the most affected. It's often our deepest pains that draw us closer to our purpose. Those words never really hit home until I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at the age of 28. I had watched both my mother and grandmother battle the disease, but never thought I would find myself in the same battle, especially not so young. I've learned through this journey that it's not what you go through, but how you go through it. I wanted to share my story in hopes that it will inspire someone to keep fighting, keep the faith and live on purpose.
I was cancer free, but I still had to have one more expansion before my surgery.
My doctors’ appointments didn’t slow down, in fact I felt like I had more than usual.
My prayer continued to be that God completely restore my health. One of the things that my doctors constantly reminded me of is the fact that some women’s menstrual cycles never return after chemotherapy and it was a strong possibility that mine wouldn’t.
My cycle had stopped in January and in spite of what the doctors were saying. I was praying that it returned.
At one (of my many) doctors’ appointments, the doctor told me that part of the next step of my treatment would be going on tamoxifen. I would have to take the pill everyday for the next 5 years of my life. They were looking to block my body’s estrogen production.
My stomach twisted in knots listening to the doctor rattle off the side effects. I would basically be thrown into menopause at the age of 29??
I had already had a taste of hot flashes during chemo and the thought of having more intense hot flashes FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS made me sick.
While the doctor talked and urged me to start taking the pills immediately, I prayed silently. “Lord, I believe that you have healed me. I pray that you restore my body. I pray that my health be even better than it was prior to my diagnosis.”
The doctor told me the pills would ensure that any lingering cancer cells would be destroyed and it would keep it from coming back, but there was just something that didn’t feel right about taking them.
I think deep down my doctor wasn’t convinced that I was going to take her advice about the pills.
I left the doctor’s office frustrated and still asking God to help me make the right choice. In the car I told my mom how I just didn’t feel comfortable taking the pills and she told me she would support me in whatever I decided.
When I got back to my parents’ house I sat on the couch. I replayed all the things the doctor said over and over.
“We want you to be around for the next 20-30 years. I really want you to take this pill.” She had said. She also mentioned pairing some type of injections with the tamoxifen dosage. Of course,she also reminded how unlikely it was that I would have a cycle again.
I’ll admit I was extremely frustrated. I had to start treatment so quickly that I wasn’t able to discuss freezing my eggs or doing anything to ensure that if I wanted more children in the future I would have that option. I quickly shook the negative thoughts and continued praying.
I sat there praying and weighing my options when all of a sudden I began to feel strange. My stomach starting cramping and I got a bit of a headache.
It turns out my cycle had came back. The same day my doctor told me that it probably wouldn’t return, the same day my doctor had prescribed tamoxifen for the next 5 years–my cycle had returned!
I told my mom and we both looked at each other and almost simultaneous said ” don’t take the pills.”
I opted not to take the tamoxifen even at the urging of my doctors.
I would never tell anyone to do the same. Deciding not to take the pills was a decision I made for ME. Instead of taking tamoxifen, I’ve decided to make a few lifestyle changes when it comes to my health. One of the nurses talked to my mother and I about switching to an alkaline diet and after we researched, we have both decided to slowly begin changing our habits.
Before I could focus on alkaline diets and lifestyle changes, I had an expansion and surgery to prepare for. It felt good to be on the home stretch and to see my health slowly but surely being restored.