My battle started with a tricycle accident. I had to have an operation that resulted in losing a piece of my skull, but as the neurosurgeon was in there, he found and removed a tumor.
The biopsy came back cancerous. So at that point, the brain-surgery-tricycle accident was the bad news that led to the early discovery of cancer, which was starting to look like the bright side when they referred me to an oncologist.
I was diagnosed with Multifocal Langerhan’s Cell Histiocytosis X in 2014, or LCH. According to Dr. Christopher R. Shea, LCH is a group of idiopathic disorders characterized by the presence of cells with characteristics similar to bone marrow. They're derived Langerhans cells juxtaposed against a backdrop of hematopoietic cells, including T-cells, macrophages, and eosinophil. The term "multifocal" is due to pituitary glands involvement, which causes diabetes insipidus. My doctor said that I have to undergo three cycles of intravenous chemotherapy using Vinblastine and Prednisone. I went through various laboratory tests, bone marrow test and imaging tests like CT Scan and MRI.
The first two cycles were really challenging and lasted for five months. The extreme pain and unexplainable depression
during these days tested my faith, endurance and character. I am now on my third cycle, which is the maintenance stage, and I can say that I don't feel any pain anymore.
I am a teacher by profession. While I was trying to accept everything happening to me in those moments, I was also thinking of giving up my career. I ended up resigning even though they did everything they could for me because my students needed someone who wasn't as sick as I was. They were at an elementary level and my energy was simply not sufficient to lead them in dancing and to keep up with them in their English As A Second Language (ESL) classes. My students are cool and friendly -- I didn't want them to suffer simply because I was ill.
Gladly, I was hired as an English teacher for senior high school students. This allowed me to focus more on recovering my health. My new employer has been extremely kind to adjust my schedule in accordance with my residual side effects. My students and colleagues have generous hearts to help me with my situation. I believe that they were part of the success for my first two treatment cycles, along with the support of my caring and loving mother and all the members of our family who helped and prayed for my speedy recovery.
I now realize I had became stubborn and prideful during the first two months, but that my challenge was to acknowledge my illness and learn to find ways to overcome it -- or at least to help myself fight in the midst of the storm. Through my faith, I realized these five truths while I was on my cancer journey:
1. God is brilliant.
He has unique and different tests for his people.
2. God has a better plan.
You have to see the bigger picture. You are probably under construction.
3. God is always there.
Our loved ones and friends are there to help us. Most importantly, our God is with us and He is able to heal our wounds and renew our strength. He is always ready to hear our prayers every time we call.
4. Trust God’s ways.
He knows exactly where you are. Ask Him to show the right direction.
5. Be healthy and happy.
Help yourself. No one will decide for you to be happy. Wake up! Learn to talk to yourself wisely.
I told myself once that I will have a better purpose the next time I go to the hospital, that I won't go back there for the same reason and in the same situation. I will shout of His goodness. I will go there to testify what God has done in my life.
These experiences made me want to write an article that may help warriors as they face their many trials. I discovered that we can face challenges like this with a smile on our faces because we are not alone. We may feel the worst of things while in the treatment process, but whether we like it or not, we are gaining a different level of faith, courage and confidence in life which we would not get if we had a perfect life. We are like swords which are being refined at an extreme level of fire. We are also like pencils which are being sharpened until we become the best version of ourselves.
Let us be the inspiring comeback after a great setback.
Did faith play a role in your cancer treatment? Share your experience in the comments below!
Photo courtesy of Ben White.