Last year I attended several photography classes in which the instructor would give us an assignment and we would interpret using photographs. On the particular class we were to photograph someone into who’s soul we could see. What follows is the narrative that preceded the photograph’s I shared with the other participants. I must give full disclosure by telling you that there was not a dry eye in the house by the time I completed the story. I hope you enjoy.
February 2, 2012
In my role as breast nurse navigator I am in a unique position to meet and minister to many women and families who are in a trying and vulnerable season of life. I am often extremely impacted emotionally and spiritually by the struggles, fear and pain that I witness and must provide support through. I have felt a deep stirring over these past couple of months as I struggle with the injustice of this life altering disease.
It was during a time of prayer and fasting that I began to sense a bud of an idea. Cancer care is inclusive of what is known as complimentary medicine; the use of eastern medicine as well as the arts to restore the WHOLE person to health. We are after-all composed of mind, body and spirit. I believe that God wants me to act as an agent to aid in the healing process. This assignment gave be the motivation I needed to move to the next level.
Let me introduce Grace. We met my first week on the job; the first patient at my hospital to be navigated through breast cancer care. Early August she underwent the first surgical procedure to remove the cancer from her body. The day we took this photo she was receiving her last dose of chemotherapy medication…we are two-thirds of the way complete.
I asked Grace to answer a couple of questions if she was comfortable. What I will share with you next is her response which is being shared with her permission.
Me: I was wondering what your thoughts are about how cancer has changed YOU. I know how it has changed your life at least on the physical level but how has it changed you…your thoughts, the way you interact with the world, people, God. Is there something that you have learned during this time that you will never forget?
Grace:First of all I never thought about death. I was always on survival mode. When I was just diagnosed I was sad for my kids; in my head I was ruining their life; they couldn’t lose their mother yet, they are momma’s boys and they are too young (14, 23 and 28). I would not allow myself to mess up their life. I needed to do everything without them; including them but without them being present; what if anything went wrong and they saw me suffering? No, no it couldn’t happen.
I decided to reach out to the women in my life; they would understand and sympathize with me in a different way. I created two closed groups in Facebook, one named girlfriends and one named amigas for the ones that spoke Spanish. It was a hit! I was an inspiration for them and I was able to share very openly how I felt. They shared my fears, my inside battles and my little by little accomplishments. They made me feel so loved.
In the dark side some people I thought they were close friends disappeared from my life; people that I bent backwards for them so many times; may be they were scared, may be they were not who I thought they were.
Cancer taught me to be wiser in my choices.
Cancer brought me closer to God; showed me that miracles happen every day.
I need to share this with you. When I was 17 years old I fell in love with a boy and for some strange reason we got separated. He married, I married, and we never forgot each other. Technology brought us together. This year right after my surgery and 1 day before my birthday he found me in Facebook; it was some happiness in my life much needed and unexpected. He lives in Argentina (where I’m originally from) and he is very active in the Catholic Church; I told him about my cancer and somehow he convinced me that with prayer my cancer was gonna be gone; God was going to help me.
Here is the miracle- one day out of the blue he told me that I should go to church and find out when they have a special mass for the sick people. I said ok I will go tomorrow to find out; that was in the morning something inside me made me go the same day to check; well my friend the mass that is held for the sick people and is only once a year was that same day; I couldn’t stop crying……..I knew at that point God wanted that for me………I went by myself and I cried my eyes out; I felt so blessed…….. The same guy from Argentina said to me ‘you know one day you’ll be able to share this miracle in front of people and I said yes I told my kids and I told Steve and he said no I went to church today and I got that message from God that you will be standing in front of people and you are going to be giving your testimony’. Now Paige I think your project make my miracle/message complete.
What did I learn during this time?
I learned to be more patient; I learned to give thanks every day for another day; I learned that I was chosen to fight this cancer battle was because I was strong enough to make it through; I learned there is people around me who love me unconditionally; I learned to reach out in order to heal; I learned a life lesson.
I never said ‘why me?’. Instead I said thank God it’s me with cancer and no one of my dearest. I can make it! I will make it!
Thank you Paige for giving me an opportunity to share this with you!
Thank you for showing up in my life when I needed a hand and helped me walk though!
Love you Paige!!!!!!!
As with every other adventure I have been on when the Spirit is leading I have learned that the Divine Healer uses power to heal me while I am working to heal others…
Here is beautiful Grace on the last day of her chemo treatment. I met her to give her a Victory Rose which is pictured. Grace has passed the one year mark since her diagnosis of breast cancer. Even though her treatment is complete, the fear never really leaves.