Today I finally received the news …. I am one-year cancer-free!
It has been a year when I was diagnosed with DCIS Breast cancer. No one ever forgets the initial shock when they are asked to come back for another test. For the past 57 years that I have been going for my mammogram, I usually leave the place feeling sore and life goes on. I get the results in the mail after five days and I am cleared from anything. But not last year. I did not get anything in the mail. Instead, I got a call to come back for another exam.
Ironically, the day after they did my biopsy was my last day at work. The new job that I took in January 2020 did not work well for me. It was not the right fit for me. When you cry in a job, you know it is not the right place for you. The year before that, September of 2019, I lost my job of seventeen years because of a new administration that walked in and took over our agency. Then, my mother passed away in October of the same year in 2019.
My entire life fell apart in those eight months. The stability and the routine of my life disappeared in an instant.
In March of 2020, I had a double lumpectomy surgery two weeks apart. My second surgery is the first week that it was declared a complete shutdown and only essential surgeries are allowed. I was extremely fortunate and blessed that I have a wonderful compassionate surgeon who quickly decided to book me for surgery before anyone else signs up for surgery that day. I remember that there were only seven patients scheduled for that morning in the entire hospital. I was scheduled as the second patient on March 20, 2020.
In between my diagnosis and surgeries, I was applying for a job continuously. I went for a physical interview on March 10, Tuesday morning four days right after my first surgery. I could not postpone my job interview. I walked into the interview room with a smile and there was a panel of five people who interviewed me for an hour. I courageously responded to questions with tact and poise. Focusing on the questions. Another half-hour for a written test. My mind is a blur but trying to answer the best that I can.
The same week, I had two more video interviews with two different organizations. At the same time, my surgeon asked me to come back to her office to tell me that I need another surgery because the first one did not get the entire cancer out. A tiny portion was underneath the cup though luckily, she noticed it. The following week, March 20th I went for my second lumpectomy. I remember being dark outside while my partner drove me to the hospital at 6:30 in the morning. I recall the hospital was quiet and the protocol of the locked-down is pretty much obvious from the outside, where securities and medical staff taking your temperature and asking Covid-19 questions, the hand sanitizer, and all.
As I was being prepped for surgery, I kept a silent prayer to myself and asking God to stay with me while I am under anesthesia. The feeling of just being by yourself in the hospital and none of your family or friends were allowed to come in with you- was overwhelming. After a few hours of waking up – I felt so overjoyed to see the sky and the sun from the window where my bed was sitting right next to. I knew right there I was given another life to live. An opportunity to see life from a different perspective. I was given more time to honor and praise the Almighty God.
For the next six weeks, I went through radiation. Each morning, while waiting for my turn in the small cubicle in the waiting room, I pray….
1 Keep me safe, my God,
for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
apart from you, I have no good thing.”
3 I say of the holy people who are in the land,
“They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
4 Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
or take up their names on my lips.
5 Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
7 I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night, my heart instructs me.
8 I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful[b] one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
During the weeks ahead of my daily radiation, I continued to do job interviews. Remember the job interview that I went to after my first surgery? I did not get that job after the grueling interviews and written tests. But I did not get discouraged, I persevered. I know that God got my back on this. I figured, he allowed me to survive this far, there must be something else designed for me.
Towards my last week of radiation, I got a job offer! A job that I felt was right for me. A job in a health care system that cares for the elderly in the community. The last hurdle was to get a TB test. But it was scheduled in the morning right after my radiation. You see I did not tell any employer while applying for the job that I have cancer nor told them about my surgeries or radiation. I just know that I need a job and that God will lead me to the job that He knows is right for me.
When I went in for my TB test, I had to tell the nurse in private about my situation and that I am undergoing radiation. I was afraid that it will affect the result of my TB test. So, she went inside to speak to the doctor to get approval. Lo and behold! The doctor rearranged my TB test and went for a different route. Instead of the skin test, he just requested the Lab to do a blood draw. I don’t know the difference, but it worked! The results were forwarded to my prospective employer the following week.
My last day of radiation was May 21, 2020. I started in my new job on May 26, 2020 – four days after my last radiation. The best part of my current job is that I am surrounded by good and compassionate people who share my passion providing care for the community. Do you know how amazing that day for me? I have not told a lot of people of this testimony and to those, I have mentioned this, I am not quite sure if they truly understand how I felt that day and how I still feel at this moment. It is the day that God lifted my life!
I had a successful stable job for seventeen years before the enemy struck my life. When my life started falling apart, it reminds me of the story and life of Job in the Bible.
20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.[c]
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.”
22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
God taught me to persevere. To find humility and patience in my darkest hours. Although the enemy could inflict me with misery, pain and stripped me from everything good in my life, God consistently reminded me that I was never alone. He surrounded me the blessings of family, church friends, and a new fulfilling job with the right people. He brought back goodness into my life.
And just as it is written in the Book of Job 42:10-14, He restored my life, healed my soul, and continues to heal my body.
10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver[a] and a gold ring.
12 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-Happuch. 15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.