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Angela’s Cancer Story:  My Journey Begins, Part I

We each have a story to tell.

Stories filled with with adventures of good times and fun times. Stories filled with hope and the love of Christ.

In our stories we may also experience times of pain and discouragement. Times when we are confused and when we don't understand our circumstances.

It is in those times when we choose to share our stories that we bring light to others. The light that reflects the love of God and what He has done in our life, in and through us, to bring Him the honor and glory in the midst of the good and of that which is difficult.

This story is a reflection of God's amazing grace and a life God chose to bring hope to others. It is a story filled with so much good.

My friend Angela is a cancer survivor. Angela is married and a mother of three children. She works as a facilities planner and loves to read and travel.

Angela talked about how too much emphasis is placed on balance. She compares herself, not to others, but instead she compares herself to her former self. Who she was at 20 and 30 years of age, and even who she was before cancer.

Life balance comes from learning our boundaries and discerning what balance means to us. It's accepting that how you live makes you happy. It’s important to have close relationships, even if it means sacrificing having a clean house sometimes.

For Angela, cancer has been a self-promoting benefit. She was found by a magazine The Guide to Multiple Myeloma. They hired a photographer to do a photo shoot and gave Angela an opportunity to share her story. She was thrilled, "It was the best feeling of my life to have an opportunity to share my story with 600 people." Angela was nervous, but her husband, Tony, who regularly speaks in public, coached Angela to just be herself. That affirmation gave Angela courage to share her story. Angela prayed, “I asked God to take over. God was speaking through me.” She also joked with her husband after the photo shoot and said, “Being a model and public speaker was exciting!”

For Angela, every day is a new day. Some days are good. Other days she needs rest. "It’s all I can do to go from the couch to the bathroom, then I feel drained. Fatigue is a huge side effect of the cancer treatment medications. I never know how I am going to feel.” She added, “I eat beans to raise my energy level. I try to eat red meat once a week.” She further went on to say, “I get my nutrients through my diet, but no special diet."

I asked Angela, “How did it start for you?”

She said it was April 2016. "I was active and working out. I started to develop a limp." Her husband, Tony, told her to see a doctor. Angela delayed her visit to the doctor, as she and her husband had planned a vacation that May. When they returned from their vacation Angela went to the doctor and they sent her to physical therapy in June and July.

Angela remembers going hiking one day. She said, “Going up the mountain was easy, but I couldn’t come down the mountain. My shin bone on my right leg was painful." Angela continued her doctor’s visits and was diagnosed with sciatica and tendinitis. Angela thought there was something torn.

"Then, one morning, I woke up screaming with excruciating pain. I could not stand up." She had to go to work because they were in the middle of a busy season. When she got to work she called the doctor and a friend took her to her appointment. The doctor wanted to give her a cortisone shot, but Angela refused. She said, "I knew it did not feel right."

Unfortunately, Angela spent Christmas on crutches that year. For two weeks she still could not walk. The pain was unbearable and Tylenol was her constant friend. Nothing was working so they brought in a sports medicine doctor. The doctors thought she was losing circulation. The sports medicine doctor, however, did not agree with the diagnosis and had her do an MRI and X-rays. After her MRI and X-rays Angela was told she could not go home. They had her wait for the doctor. “My heart dropped to my stomach” Angela was scared. "I knew something was wrong."

On January 17, 2017, the doctor diagnosed Angela as having a tumor in her right leg, but they had to do further testing to confirm that the tumor wasn’t a cyst. After dozens of tests, the MRI confirmed her tumor was multiple myeloma. They fast tracked her cancer treatment. The doctors had not taken her cancer seriously in the beginning. Angela recalls previous symptoms, even before her leg pain. She experienced a chemical imbalance and had been prescribed antidepressants and went to therapy.

The doctor said tests can be wrong and it could still be something else. The doctor would not say it was multiple myeloma, but that the tumor could be benign. He could remove it and it would be good. Angela had hope!

After the tests, the doctor was cold. This was not to be mean, but to distance his emotions and not to get close to his patients. He confirmed the worst. Angela had cancer. She exclaimed, “Take it all out.” The doctor expressed compassion, “I don’t understand. You are too young.” Then he assured Angela he could get her walking again. After surgery they made her walk the next day. They said, “You walk to the bathroom or else you will need to be in a rehab facility for two weeks." Angela was afraid. "I was determined to walk and I said to myself, 'I am going to walk'" and she did.

Though Angela had a difficult journey, she recalls the blessings of the people that God put in her life. "I was home recovering from surgery for eight weeks. The medical providers came to the house a few times a week to check in on me. They did physical therapy on me, reviewed my accommodations, and make recommendations to assist my living in the house." She said, “They even put my walker together.” Angela remained in therapy, and it was effective.

But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

What does it mean to share your story?

How will that affect someone else's life?

How will your story honor God today?

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