NORMAN — The year was 2007. I had finished getting my first-grade room ready to start a new school year.
The week before, I had noticed a pain in my right breast. I went to my gynecologist, who said it was probably a fibroid.
In three days, I was in the Breast Care Center at Norman Regional Hospital getting tests. My mammogram had come out OK, but I had dense breast tissue, so the ultrasound was necessary in order to get a clearer picture.
I could feel the nurses looking at each other as they did the biopsy and knew it was bad news. Sure enough, the next day, I got the call telling me I had a type of breast cancer called invasive lobular.
I could not take in anything else after hearing the word — “cancer.”
My twin sister and my two teammates took me home. My husband, who was my rock, came home and we all cried. Thus, began my journey through cancer.
My radiation therapist sister-in-law gave me great advice. She said to take things one step at a time. That is what I did.
As I had the double mastectomy — because this type of cancer often travels from one breast to the other — I made it through one step at a time. As I went to my chemotherapy treatments, I kept going.
When we came to the place where my hair was falling out, I called my brave 22-year-old daughter to shave my head. As she finished, I started weeping. She hugged me and said, “Momma, this is just the next step in the process. Now you are one step closer to being done.”
I began writing down encouraging words and Bible verses and posting them all over the house. I read these daily, and they gave me strength to endure the six months of chemo.
But during this time, I also started a gratitude journal. Every day, I wrote down what happened that day that I made me grateful. Such as:
“My son and his fiancee came to see me today and told me all the news about the wedding plans” or
“My teacher friends at Jackson came over and brought restaurant cards or whole dinners because my husband can’t cook!” or
“My daughter made me a velvet dress for the holidays” or
“My church family is praying for me.”
I received so much support through cards, calls and visits … I have never felt so loved.
As I have continued the journey, after chemo, after reconstructive surgery, and these five years later, I still try to start my day thanking God for each new day.
I learned that even on our worst days, there is something to be thankful for.
In 2008, two months after completing chemo, I was dancing with my son at his wedding to the song I used to rock him to as a baby. I had on a wig , big pink dress and I was still puffy from all the drugs, but I was alive and I was there!!!
Today, I am Nana to a beautiful almost-2-year-old granddaughter.
Yes, I am grateful and I am blessed.