Hi, I am Faith, a stage 2 breast cancer warrior and survivor. I’m 36 years old this year and mother of two lovely girls, 5 and 1.
In June 2021, I discovered that I was pregnant with my second child. This pleasant surprise filled both my husband and my hearts in excitement. Amidst the anticipation, however, was that I realised that my right breast was lumpy even after having stopped breastfeeding the same year. Even though there was no pain or any abnormality, for a peace of mind, we decided to request for a check-up since we were already going to see a doctor for the pregnancy. The check-up unveiled a stark reality: I received the devastating news of being diagnosed with HER2 positive stage 2 breast cancer.
“What is going to happen to my baby?”
“What am I going to do?”
“How will my elder girl take it? Is she gonna lose her mummy at such a young age?”
“Will I be okay?”
A lot went through my mind upon receiving the news. There was so much uncertainty. I broke down and was inconsolable. It took me a long while to regain my composure in order to listen to the possible treatment plans offered to me and the potential risk it might have to my unborn child. The recommended treatment was for me to undergo mastectomy first. However, surgery was out of the question as the duration I would be under general anaesthesia might put my baby in danger.
As the two tumours were huge and the cancer cells were aggressive, I was legit terrified even though I was told that my chances of survival were high. It was difficult for both my husband and I to process everything especially given the uncertainty over the whole situation.
But one thing we were very certain of and that was our determination to fight against all odds. We will keep our baby no matter what and beat this cancer! So, we decided to take on the alternative treatment plan offered to me. I would first undergo four sessions of AC chemotherapy after the first trimester of my pregnancy, follow by more targeted treatment after giving birth and then surgery and finally, ending everything with a whole cycle of Herceptin treatment.
Hair started falling shortly after the first chemotherapy treatment
Shaving our heads together
Not gonna lie, it wasn’t all bright and cheery throughout. I felt especially lousy when my hair began to drop soon after my first chemo session follow by the loss in appetite due to the post-chemo nausea. The frequent visits to the hospital for treatments very much dampened my mood because it was a constant reminder that I was unwell.
My fourth chemotherapy treatment
Having to plan for my child to be born prematurely at week 32 of my pregnancy so that I can make room for more targeted chemotherapy was also a dilemma and struggle for me. I felt so guilty and upset that I had to put her through so much because of my cancer and it became more evident when I visited my daughter in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and she had so many needles/tubes all over her tiny body. Thank God that she was fully discharged in just a month and I could restart my chemotherapy and go for my surgery in peace.
My second born in NICU
Today I am happy to share that I am now in remission and I have cleared my recent active surveillance scan as well.
There were many times I allowed my negative emotions to get the better of me and I threw myself some major pity parties but mainly only when I was by myself. I really did not want anyone to worry about me because as much as I didn’t sign myself up for this ordeal, neither did my family nor friends.
However when hope seems lost, I found solace in the word of God and in praise and worship because that was when I redirected my focus from myself to my faith. It helps make each day a little more manageable. Not only that, the unwavering Iove and support from my family especially my husband also kept me going. Many of my friends took turn to check on me and made sure I was okay too. I began to look at creating memories with my family and friends and to cherish every moment I have with them.
I just want to say that there is strength in every single one of us in the face of adversity. We are stronger than we think. We might not know what the future holds, but we can all afford to live one day at a time and sometimes, that is enough. We certainly do not have to always be okay and it is alright to admit that we are struggling and need help. Don’t shut yourself out and allow others to love and speak positively on your behalf even when you don’t have the courage to believe.
Post-mastectomy surgery and celebrating my 35th birthday in hospital
This year's birthday celebration
And if you are that friend to the person going through a tough time, thank you for sticking to the friendship even though some times response might be delayed. There is really no need to overcompensate and please continue to be you and that was probably what your friend going through a difficult season would appreciate.
That’s all from me and I hope my little sharing can bring some hope to anyone who are fighting your own battle. Hang in there!