ORLANDO - With my mother at my side, I sat in my Oncologist’s examination room and listened as she told me the results of the tests done on the tumor that was removed during my surgery. The tumor was larger than they thought. Because of the size they considered it stage three breast cancer. My doctor advised me that I would have to have six rounds of chemotherapy and have it administered once every three weeks.
I was so glad my son, AJ, made it home from college before my treatments began. He would be able to go through the chemotherapy journey with me. The morning of my first chemotherapy treatment I gave him a big hug and then my mother and I drove to the hospital.
Once in the hospital I began crying as we waited for the elevator to take us to the 5th floor. I continued to cry when I got off the elevator and signed in. The ladies at the desk said hello but they didn’t say a word about my tears. Neither did my mother. They just let me cry. I appreciated it, too. Sometimes when you go through rough times you don’t need to hear someone say, “Don’t cry.” You have to know that it’s ok to cry.
In the treatment room there was a reclining chair, a TV and another chair so my mother could sit with me. My nurse hung several bags that contained my medicine in it on an IV stand. She connected the first one to the port that was placed in my chest during my surgery. Having a port makes it easier to receive the medicine instead of having to get it through my arm. Once one bag of medicine was finished the machine would beep and the nurse would come in to start another one. For me, the whole process took about five hours. During that time, volunteers came to visit each patient and provided pillows, lunch, cookies, words of wisdom and lots of smiles. When the last bag of medicine was empty I could go home. Three days later I would return to get an injection of another medicine that replenished my white blood cells.
Everyone experiences different side effects. Some of mine included pain in my bones, sore muscles, numbness in my fingers, at times extreme fatigue and at other times insomnia. One thing is for sure, during my entire chemotherapy journey I never lost my appetite. Food stopped tasting good, but I still wanted to eat it! Needless to say, weight gain was another side effect.
From May until the end of August the chemotherapy medicine, the bad cells and the good cells were at war inside of me. Many times I cried out to the Lord and recited “Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalms 61:1-2(KJV).
In addition to dealing with side effects, I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was for the big one – the loss of my hair. On May 3rd I had my first chemotherapy treatment. On May 17th my hair started to fall out. I was speechless for a moment. Both hair and tears were falling from my body. My brother, Ron, was at home to hug me and tell me that everything would be ok. I knew it would be but I was thrown off guard because I thought my hair wouldn’t start falling out until the third chemotherapy treatment, not the first one! But there I was trying to plan the inevitable when God had His own schedule. I thought I had learned to let go. I realized I hadn’t. At that moment I finally turned it all over to Him.
It was time to part with my hair. I decided to have it all cut off rather than go through the agony of watching it come out in large amounts. I called my beau, Mac, and asked him to come over to cut my hair. But before I had it cut off, I wanted to prepare my son, AJ, for my baldness. I showed him how much hair I was losing with each stroke of the comb. He watched and said, “Wow!”
The next day it felt awkward sitting and watching my hair being shaved off. When Mac finished my head was as bald as his. I would have to get used to the new image that I saw staring back at me in the mirror. Sometimes I was hard on myself. Sometimes I’d laugh at myself. Soon I began to say “I’ve lost my hair but not my spirit.” Most important, I know that God loves me with hair or without hair. And I know that His love for me does not change.
|Beautiful and Courageous -Yvette Register|
I’m thankful for all the love, prayers, hugs, visits, positive feedback and words of encouragement that I received from my friends and family during my chemotherapy journey. It wasn’t an easy experience but it wasn’t an impossible one either. I made it through it.
Next week will be the last article on my breast cancer journey as I close with my radiation experience. I encourage you to stay with me as I continue to share how God’s grace has covered my life and made my walk with Him stronger and more courageous! I hope it will be a blessing to others who may have a similar journey!
Marvin Sapp "He Has His Hands on You"