As I drove down 95 from Washington DC marveling at how well traffic was moving it dawned on me that this was a federal holiday and many employees had the day off – hence light traffic. The beautiful foliage captured my attention; the leaves were just beginning to turn for autumn. These distractions helped me deal with a visit I just had with a cousin who is fighting the recurrence of breast cancer. Her spirit is amazing!
More than eighteen years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy. Almost three years ago she became aware of pains in her back. Initially, she thought nothing of them . A few months of self treatment did not relieve the pain and she decided to see her doctor. Following numerous tests she was told the cancer had reoccurred. I have been told by some in the medical field that the recurrence of breast cancer is difficult to diagnose.
Facing cancer once must be difficult but the second time around has to be even more challenging. She dealt with it like a trooper; always with a very positive attitude. For a while she resisted treatment but finally decided on holistic treatment. During the summer of 2009, the doctor suggested she get her family together and get her affairs in order. At that time she could not walk. She decided to take radiation which got her out of the wheel chair, enabling her to care for herself. A few months later more bad news from her doctor the cancer was spreading: begin chemotherapy treatment as a last resort. Reluctantly she agreed, having resisted chemo in the past. For the next few months she took chemo and was constantly sick. In May she decided “no more chemo”. She wanted to live her remaining days with some level of quality instead of being sick and in bed every day.
Today, almost six months later with the use of steroids and methadone, the pain is relieved and she is content that she made the right decision. Spending that short time with her was truly inspirational. She never complains about her illness or asks “why me”. Instead she spends her time encouraging and inspiring others. When I arrived for my visit, though she moves very slowly and can sit comfortably for only short periods, she was at her computer making a birthday card to send her girlfriend. She says she does not know why God is keeping her alive but she is thankfully for every day he gives her but whenever the time comes she is ready. Her affairs are in order and she has specific written instructions for the family even down to detail funeral arrangement. However, she is quick to say though she has things in order, she is not rushing God’s decision but she wants to be ready.
Such a wonderful spirit and strong faith should be something we all strive for. She is such a blessing and ministered to me more than I did to her.
Causes Lillian Lambert Supports
American Cancer Society, American Heart Assn, Howard Universit, Impact 100 of Richmond