Monday, December 15, 2014
As I sat across from my new friend Niki, I couldn't help but be blessed by her. She was wearing a head scarf to protect her tender scalp that was covered with the downy soft, hair regrowth that comes after chemotherapy. Quick to laugh, with a sparkle in her eyes, the beauty of a humble spirit, and a most radiant smile on her face, she told me of her battle, and of God's victory. She has graciously allowed me to share her story with you here, in hopes of bringing someone else hope who may be in a similar battle.
"I have the BRCA1 cancer gene," Niki shared with me. "I also have a very strong family history of breast and ovarian cancer. I was just recovering from breast cancer and my mastectomy, and I didn't have to undergo chemo for that, since it was not invasive, and all the tissue around it was removed. I got that surgery just in time! I was just starting to feel better when I decided I wanted to know how my ovaries were doing. I got ultrasounds and found out on Christmas of 2013 that I had a cluster of cysts. I had the choice to either wait, or schedule a routine hysterectomy. We decided to wait. I figured that I could just do that surgery in the summer of 2014 since I was still recovering from a reconstructive surgery already from that month. I went ahead and did another ultrasound in April 2014 to see how it was doing, and got an urgent call from my Doctor just a few days later."
"She said I had cancer. She was sure of it. My ovaries needed to come out immediately. She rearranged her schedule, and my surgery was scheduled right away. I had to get my blood work done, and a CT scan. My head was spinning and I was in shock. My prayer was, "Lord, contain this cancer, all I want is for you to be glorified!"
"The surgery was successful. Through the 7 hours I was in surgery, much cancer recovery was done and 31 lymph nodes were removed. We found out that cancer had spread to one of them. It was stage three, but they got it all and believed that it was all contained, JUST LIKE MY PRAYER! If I had waited a few weeks later, I may not have had a chance to beat this. I had 18 weeks of chemotherapy. It was very difficult to lose my hair. My hair was so long and pretty...But the hardest part, was seeing my husband scared out of his mind that he was going to lose me."
I asked Niki to answer some questions, here are her answers:
Jodi: "What sustained you though this battle for your life?"
Niki: "Humor! I tried to find things to laugh about. Laughter is really good medicine! One example is when I was at home after a chemo, my husband came into the room to see how I was doing. I looked at him with a serious expression and said, "Honey, I think we have a problem...I'm two months late!" I had him going there!"
Jodi: "Where did you get the strength to fight?"
Niki: "My strength came from the Lord. Without Him, I would have been laying in bed feeling sorry for myself. He gave me many reasons to smile and get out of bed! I knew He had a plan! My strength also came from my family and the friends that stopped by, cards that were sent, and meals that were prepared by friends and my daughters. Also my husband who would go to Denny's to get me the only things I had an appetite for: hot wings and lots of bacon!"
Jodi: "If someone else is going through this, how would you suggest encouraging them?"
Niki: "Just show up. Be there. Send cards. Let them know you are there. Cancer was truly a lonely place for me. Sometimes I wanted to be alone, sometimes I wanted someone there. It was a really strange time for me. I would just tell you to be as understanding as you can, and to try to comfort them as much as you can. "
Jodi: "What was most helpful to you and your family?"
Niki: "Definitely the prayers, meals, and cards. People have no idea what that means to us and how it helps. Some even came by and cleaned my house and did laundry! My girls loved reading the cards and all the prayers and thoughts of every one on my cancer support group on Face Book. My husband was very encouraged too."
Jodi: "Is there something that we should NOT say or do to someone who is going through this?"
Niki: "Don't jump ahead and talk about losing their hair. It is difficult enough dealing with Cancer. I knew it was going to happen eventually. It was just a hard and personal thing to deal with. "
Jodi: "In what areas are you stronger now that you have gone through this?"
Niki: "I just survived each day. I woke up and got out of bed. I went to all the blood draws even though I am scared of needles. I couldn't stand going to chemotherapy, but I knew it would give me a chance to beat this cancer. I believe my marriage is stronger. I am so proud of my husband! He worked so hard taking care of me and even made sure to be at every blood draw. Then he went to work, not knowing if I would survive..."
Jodi: "Now that you are in remission, what lessons did you learn through this very difficult time?"
Niki: "It is hard for someone like me who loves to help others and make them happy, to sit down and let people do that for me. I learned to sit down."
Jodi: "Is there a scripture that you held onto?"
Niki: "Proverbs 3:5-6 On trusting in the Lord. Also, Mark 4:35-41 that tells of when Jesus said to His disciples that He was going to take them to the other side. Then He fell asleep and a huge storm took place. the disciples thought they were going to die and woke Jesus. They forgot that Jesus already said He was going to take them to the other side! I believed Jesus would take e to the other side of this cancer. I had to have faith and tryst and remember that God is always true to His words!
Jodi: "What is your favorite quote?"
Niki: "I am a huge fan of Corrie Ten Boom and love this quote the most, "You may never know that Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you have."
What I learned from this vivacious, funny lady, is that we should never lose hope. God is our anchor. Through the storms of life, if we hold fast to Him, we will, just as Niki has, bring Him glory as He accomplished His will. Thank you Niki, for sharing your courageous heart and your testimony with us here at Proverbs 31 Collective.