I didn’t know what to do when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Years of exercise, proper nutrition, and clean living did not stop the disease from invading her cells. She didn’t have a history of cancer in her family. And she didn’t do all those things doctors tell you to avoid. She didn’t smoke. She didn’t have high cholesterol. She exercised regularly. She did her mammograms once a year. But suddenly, she found herself fighting for her life against cancer.
The next few months would be hard as her doctors waged war against her new enemy. Chemo treatments. Nausea. Loss of appetite. Hope that the disease had been destroyed, only to have the doctors tell her that it just kept spreading. Through it all, her resolve never wavered. There were plenty of times where I thought she might quit her treatments, but she persevered through the sickness caused by her medicine. As the cancer continued to spread, she always wanted to fight back. It was the athlete inside of her. The hard worker. The grinder. Her tenacity served her well as the cancer advanced to Stage 3.
How do you prepare for the worst without giving up?
We started having those end of life discussions. Where do you want to be in the last few months? Who do you want around? She wanted the will updated. At this point, I thought she was ready to quit the treatments when we started talking about her death. It turns out that she just didn’t want me to be burdened with them. She was transferred from her local hospital to a speciality clinic in Jacksonville. The doctors there offered her the opportunity to participate in an experimental drug program and take drugs that were more aggressive than the ones that she had already been taking. The more aggressive drugs meant more severe side effects.
Finally, slowly, her white blood cell count started moving back to normal. Ten months after her ordeal began, her cancer was in remission. She conquered breast cancer just like she had conquered so many other things in her life: remaining pragmatic and full of grace. The trials and tribulations that she endured early in life, had prepared her for this fight. My only hope is that I'll be able to face challenges one day the same way she did.