Once this had happened, the huge and most daunting decision to have a double mastectomy hung over our heads. We prayed constantly and God continued to guide us every step of the way.Our daughters were only 6 and 4 years old at the time and they took it very hard. All they wanted to know was if mommy was going to die? That broke my heart the most. I knew my husband would manage if I died but I just couldn’t face thinking that Emma and Kate would have to face this life without their mom. I knew I had to survive and I knew I would do whatever it took to do that. With God on my side and Jesus having already died on the cross to heal me, I could and would survive.After the 6 months of chemotherapy, I had the double mastectomy on the 6th March 2014.The operation was very painful and I had a few complications due to infections. It was a very tough time but when I got the news that the cancer was all out and there was no further cancerous cells left in my lymph glands or breast area, I knew I could celebrate my complete healing! I was now cancer free! I am sure most of you know of someone you love that has had to undergo chemotherapy.
- Camera lens – this allows us to zoom in and focus on something.As I looked for the shells, everything around me was a blur, it was “out of focus” Similarly God showed me how I had to zoom in and focus on getting through my cancer journey.I had to keep my eye on the target so that nothing would distract me from my ultimate goal.
- Push the shoot button – in the case of the shells, this is when I made the conscious decision to pick up that shell and keep it. Similarly I had to allow people to help me with lifts for my children to school, cooked meals being delivered to our house 3 times a week, hiring an au pair and employing a full time maid. I had to bury my pride and say yes, I do need help right now and thank you!
- The camera flash – this is required when needed. This is a time when we can use the light of Christ’s grace to fill our lives in dark times.
- The camera battery – this needs to be recharged from time to time. Just as in my life, this was the time that I needed to rest often, let my chemo do the work and let others help me as I had “down time”.
- The on/off switch – God showed me during my cancer journey that it was ok to have an “off” day when I didn’t feel particularly well. I could just switch “off” and allow others to fill in for me while I recharged my battery.
- Camera case and strap – that is there to provide “support”. The support comes from your local church, your family, your friends and most importantly God. Without that support, your camera will fall and crash!
- Flash card – this is your memory. Even though you are going through a very trying time, you are able to process thoughts and remember details of your journey. Once you have developed these photos/memory, you can delete them, i.e. put the cancer behind you and move on.
- Printing the photos – this is the part that is visual. Here we get to see photos of ourselves along the journey. It is just like taking a trip somewhere, you take lots of photos, then develop them, put them in a photo album and take the album out from time to time.For me, the photo album was my journal, I wrote all my feelings, emotions, special scripture verses etc in here and when I need to reflect on things, I look back through my journal.
- Downloading the photos to your computer for safekeeping – this is where I would download my feelings with a counselor who is trained to help you. The GVI oncology unit provided free counseling to all cancer patients as well as our wonderful Coronation Avenue Methodist church’s Ruach counseling centre.
There are so many lessons we can learn from nature, the sea changes tides, the trees change colour during the seasons, the vines are cut back in autumn and grow new leaves and fruit in the spring. Jesus said, “Abide in me for I am the vine and you are the branches.” If we learn from this and watch how nature goes through its changes, it helps us as humans to understand that we too have “seasons” in our lives and that change is a good thing for it is through change and adversity that we grow as humans. I would like to close with this wonderful advice that I got from looking at a tree: “Stand tall and proud, go out on a limb, remember your roots, drink plenty of water and be content with your natural beauty.”
If you would like to know more about Helderberg Hospice visit their websitehttp://helderberghospice.org.za/