1st Chemo

I did not know what to expect on my first day of chemo. I had researched what I would feel like and even spoke with a couple of people, but all in all, I knew that only God could prepare me to face something like this. Anxiety, fear and confusion are all feelings that consumed me on my first day of chemo. These feelings draped my shoulders like an itchy, wool scarf & held my body close like an unwanted body. August 16th,2018 was the day that I resented, but grew to get to know better with time.

My mother, sister, father and good friend, Taylor all accompanied me on this day. Here it was 55 days after I found out about my cancer diagnosis, sitting here thinking that I was dreaming — having a nightmare that I couldn’t snap out of. Sitting in that cold chair, I realized that this is just another chapter in my book.

Taylor definitely lightened the mood with her bubbly personality and I was glad that she came because she made “it” feel normal, she made me feel normal and that’s exactly what I needed. She came strapped with gifts and even brought me popsicles to prevent mouth sores. When I got up to use the bathroom, she was two steps behind me telling me to calm down each step of the way. She looked me in my eyes and said, “Girl, I know you have cancer, but you can’t be up here looking like shit!” I laughed. I had on my favorite, but broken down uggs (which I was going to need because my feet get cold so fast).

The nurse assisting me was very nice and overall the experience wasn’t nearly as bad as I had imagined. Being there with family relaxed me so much. My family brought me food and made me laugh so I didn’t have time to think about what I was going thru.

The scariest part was when it was time to access my port (this is how chemo is administered), but God knew that I was scared because it didn’t even end up being painful. I was given three different types of pre-meds and some medications even caused me to pee about six times within 15 minutes.

Chemo ate all of the popsicles that Taylor gave me and eventually, I grew tired and dozed off. When I woke up from my chemo-nap, I felt the exact same that I did before I went into chemo, minus the anxiety. At this point, I realized that I had done it. One session down and eleven to go. Me, Ranneisha the CHAMPION had finished her first chemo session. The blankets of anxiety and fear were removed from my body and replaced with strength and courage — I’m blessed, I thought over and over. I am blessed. I then realized that this is just what the doctor ordered. Good friends, good family, good popsicles and good faith and even if that called for a side of chemo cocktail, I was going to be fine because I had all of these good things.

In the words of the great Cynthia Ozick ,“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.”

The beginning!

In late March, while self examining my breast I felt a lump but didn’t think much of it, because I had a doctor’s appointment coming up in April. When I went to the doctor’s appointment, I mentioned the lump, but my gynecologist advised me that she didn’t need to look at my breast because that’s not what my appointment was scheduled for. She then reassured me that I was too young to get any type of breast cancer and advised me to live my life without worrying. She is a doctor right? We are taught to listen to our higher-ups, especially doctors because they know a lot. So I listen… I continue work as AI normally would, continue my daily routines which include being a girlfriend, sister, daughter, boss and a friend to many, but something didn’t feel right.

I eventually went to the ER two weeks after seeing my gynecologist, because clearly something was wrong & my breast seemed larger. Still, I didn’t know what this could be because I trusted that my doctor knew what she was talking about and pointed me in the right direction. I’m 27 years old, healthy, barely eat meat, I’m happy and this couldn’t be anything serious… right? In the Emergency Room, I was told the exact same thing as before. I had nothing to worry about, I was probably over thinking and had no serious health issues. But still, although I don’t have a doctorates degree I knew something was off with my body.

I eventually ended up going to a 3rd doctor, for a 3rd opinion (thank God I did). This man instantly saved my life, by writing a referral for me to have a biopsy on June 13th. And so we await the results. Do we put our trust into my gynecologist that had a longer relationship with me and should’ve had my best interest? Or a doctor I just met?

June 22nd, I found out that I was living and breathing with cancer growing inside of my body, but didn’t know what type. Of course breast cancer, but there are several different dimensions to breast cancer. July 2nd, I learned that I had invasive TNBC – this means triple-negative breast cancer. This type of cancer is aggressive, so I am glad that I caught this early. I started chemo two months after my diagnosis, however my chemo was pushed back 4 times due to me having to change doctors. The first hospital I went to, I didn’t trust my oncologist. Her energy was off to me – I am a spiritual woman, in a sense that I vibe off of energies, whether good or bad. I could tell that I didn’t agree with hers. I believe that the body is self healing and any and everything that you surround yourself with can play a role in your healing process.

I take vitamins, barely eat meat, drink lots of tea for healing purposes, and use crystals for energy. How on earth would I balance healing my cancer with that? How would I accept having to do chemo to heal me? When people think chemo they automatically think, healing. You think that if you were given this choice to take chemo to heal your body, you would immediately say yes right? Wrong. This was a very tough decision for me to make. I had heard the pros & cons of the treatment and wasn’t sure that I wanted to do it, but saw another very good oncologist who convinced me that this was the right thing to do. I liked my oncologist, as she was very up front – not too compassionate and gave it to me raw. Reminded me a lot of myself. I enjoy compassion and sympathetic people, but there comes a time where that becomes too much.

And so it began.. the true test of life, the fight that I had no idea I was preparing for. After pushing my chemo back due to teeth extractions & changing hospitals, it finally began August the 16th. I have learned that adulting doesn’t just mean vacations and long phone conversations, swearing whenever you wanted to & fighting bill collectors. Adulting meant gearing up for war, fighting – literally fighting for something that I had no control of. So here I am, sharing my hardest battles with my loved ones. Cherishing the smaller things in life now, staying educated on what this nasty disease is and how I can have a better chance at healing myself and most importantly, trusting that the universe and someone up above has a better idea of this thing called life. In the words of the great Jim Valvano, “Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities, but it can’t touch my mind, it can’t touch my heart, and it can’t touch my soul.”