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Sisters’ Journey Survivor of the Month – CHERYL SPELLER
Read her story (thanks www.sistersjourney.org)
“Scared, but not defeated!”
My name is Cheryl Speller and this is my story. My faith in the Lord brought me through two battles of breast cancer. As a proud mother of six beautiful children and two grandsons, I was unsure how to face these battles, but was determined not to be defeated.
What I thought would be a routine mammogram in November 2011 completely changed my life. I began having mammograms in my late thirties due to a family history of breast cancer. My amazing mother and three aunts overcame their battles. “Thank you, Jesus!”
The mammogram went smoothly. Things seemed to be fine – until I received multiple voicemails from my doctor’s office. I typically wouldn’t check them, but something compelled me to do so this time. I returned the call immediately! After a short conversation, I was told that there’s an area of concern and I needed a repeat mammogram. The mammogram was then scheduled for January 2012, and I was left to wait patiently for the time to come.
About a week after the mammogram, I had an appointment with my doctor who shared the results. She explained there was a tumor located in my left breast and recommended that I have a biopsy to determine whether it was benign or malignant. The biopsy was performed and it was a malignant tumor. I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer, also referred to as TNBC. TNBC is considered an aggressive form of cancer because it can grow rapidly and spread to other areas of the body. I didn’t have much time to process the news. Shortly after the diagnosis, I was scheduled to have a lumpectomy and auxiliary lymph nodes removal. On February 14, 2012, both procedures were performed to ensure all cancerous tissue had been removed. I praised God as I was told the procedure went well and that the cancer did not spread. Chemotherapy was recommended, but I refused! Instead, I agreed to several weeks of radiation. I was warned if I didn’t receive chemotherapy, there was a chance of the cancer coming back with a vengeance! Unfortunately, the cancer did just that!
In 2015, approximately three years later, I noticed a lump in my chest wall. I immediately knew something wasn’t right. Fortunately, I had an upcoming appointment for a physical with my primary care doctor and figured that I would express my concern then. During the appointment, I showed my physician the area of concern and he examined my chest. He quietly stood back and took a deep breath. “You have a large mass,” he stated, “and with your history, it may be another tumor!” I simply responded, “Okay, what’s next?” I had a series of tests done to determine what was happening. There was a large mass protruding in my chest wall that was pressing on my clavicle.
For two consecutive years, my routine mammograms had not detected the growing mass. Everything was happening biopsy confirmed the cancer had in fact returned. I was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer (Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma). A few days later, a port was placed in the right side of my upper chest wall. I began to prepare myself for whatever was to come. Looking back on it, I don’t think there was a proper way to prepare for another battle of cancer. I just knew I had to do it.
Once chemotherapy began, I took time off from work, and I believe it was this time that brought me closer to the Lord. It was not all smooth sailing, however. My first round of chemotherapy took a toll on my mental and physical health. Two weeks into my treatment, I noticed my hair was falling out in large clumps. I was devastated! As a woman, I take pride in my hair and to see it come out, all I could do was cry! During my journey there were a few times that my white blood cell count was far too low to receive chemo, which prolonged the treatments. Although I felt drained and disappointed during these times, I did not let it discourage me. I refused to give up. Every day I pushed myself to get up and live on as if I weren’t fighting for my life. I felt obligated to be a model of strength for my children and show that I am a fighter! I asked the Lord for healing and guidance through it all. I would place anointing oil on the mass and repeat, “I am healed in the Mighty Name of Jesus!” After successfully undergoing eight weeks of chemotherapy and an additional six weeks of radiation, I was finally cancer free!
The purpose of sharing my story is to say I made it through and to encourage others that they can too! I pray my story can truly inspire others to continue to fight and not give up! I’m able to live on to say a cancer diagnosis does not mean that one’s story is over! Remain faithful and believe in your healing, because it can happen. I thank God, my family and friends for supporting me during my time of adversity! I also want to thank them for keeping me strong and motivated to keep fighting what seemed like an endless fight.
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