Since I have been doing the annual Stay Strong cancer portrait session, I thought it would be a good time to share my story. I always joke and said cancer runs in my family like water, because it seems to be true and the sad part is, its all different kinds of cancer, not just one. My first encounter with the “C” word was when I was around 12 or 13. My mother had a mole on her arm in which she went to the Dr to check out, it turned out to be melanoma. I remember my mom getting about 6 inches of her arm cut and it taken out, but that was really all that happened with it.
Fast forward possibly a year or so later, my mom for 6 months kept going to the Dr for pain in her lower abdomen and the Dr just kept telling her she had acid reflux. Finally after no pain going away she went to another Dr in which they told her she has ovarian cancer and that she needs to get to the hospital as soon as possible so they can do surgery. During the surgery process, they cut my moms stomach muscles in half to the point of them not being able to go back in for any future surgeries. My mom told me that if I ever get cancer or diagnosed with anything big that I need to get another opinion, because I really do think if the Dr’s here didn’t diagnose her wrong or do a bad surgery, she may still be here, we will never know. My mom ended up going to Baylor hospital in Dallas Texas for another Dr and to see what her options were. I was young and so my mom knew I was a worry wart and so she kept alot of things from me, which I understand as a parent doing that for your child.
I also need to let you know that my mom was a single parent and I am an only child, so this was extra hard for both of us. We did have my grandpa which I am very blessed to of had, but it still isnt anything like your own mother. My mom ended up passing away November 25, 2001, I had just turned 16. The wonderful thing about my mom is that she prepared me for it. She would sit down and talk with me and comfort me. She never sugar coated anything, but just reminded me over and over that she loved me and was proud of me. To this day, I still try and live a life as if she was here she would still be proud of me.
Three years later I was 19 and one day on Fathers Day of 2005 I had this sharp lower abdomen pain on my right side. I tried brushing it to the side, but by Monday I couldn’t take it. I went to the ER where they did some tests thinking it could possibly be my appendix or gallbladder. They told me to come back the next day for more tests and the results. I returned and they did one more test. I waited in a private room and then the Dr came in, he sat down and started small talk. He then laid the words that was so hard to hear as a 19 year old. He told me that they found a tumor on my right kidney and that its double the size and it looks like it has been growing for the past 2 years and they are going to treat it as if it was cancer. I just stared at him, flashback of the 3 years before and how I watched my mom shave her head, lose a bunch of weight, be in pain, not sleep, cry and eventually pass away. I didn’t feel invincible anymore.
I ended up getting more tests done, seeing the best Dr there was (yes, I went and got a second opinion) and by the grace of God that August, I had my cancer surgery and they removed my right kidney. I never did have to do chemo or radiation, but for the next 5 years every year I had to get tested to see if it came back. After the 5 years I have been going every 2 years to get my yearly test done. This year was my 2 year, so as of now I am 13 years cancer free!!!!
I do want to say that my grandpa was also diagnosed with colon cancer, my aunt with breast cancer, my uncle with liver cancer, melanoma and bladder cancer and many more!
To be a survivor is wonderful, but its still scary. My life wont ever be the same as another 32 year old. I now appreciate life so much more and want to experience and travel because you never know! I value life much more and want to be used by God for that second chance. I still sometimes forget that I am a survivor, but I am!!!
With this photo shoot, I think it is A-okay for people to stand up in front of a camera and be proud that they kicked cancer in the butt! I also think it is A-okay for people who are fighting to put their fighting gloves on and beat cancer in the butt!! And I also think it is A-okay to have lost a loved one to cancer and share their love and impact other peoples lives. At the end of the day, we all have known someone or been impacted by someone with cancer and I think its time that we voice it!! The truth of it all is that its scary and its ugly and its painful! But also with it is love, tenderness, grace, comfort and smiles!
I made “Stay Strong” because no matter what stage of cancer that has impacted your life, STAY STRONG!! Stay strong that you lost the loved one and their not here anymore, Stay Strong while you FIGHT and Stay Strong that when its tests time that your strength and waiting for the results will be strong!!
I will love to pick 6 people every year and share their story in October. Please make sure you enter and share your story and your loved ones story to have your story shared with your pictures!! Here’s a few of mine…..
*Oh and FYI, I came as I was because I just got home from work and it was hot and my husband took my pictures, but pictures will last forever!! Also, this will not be the location that the photo session will be.
March 12, 1959 – November 25, 2001
Funny, smart, goofy, Godly, strong
The best mom EVER!!!!