Sat | Dec 5, 2020

Breast cancer has given me hope – survivor

Published:Wednesday | October 14, 2020 | 12:11 AMKeisha Hill/Senior Gleaner Writer
Breast cancer survivor Norma Reid.
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There are many things to be grateful for these days, and chief among them is life. Cancer survivor Norma Reid is elated that through faith, determination and her belief in God, she survived one of the biggest challenges of her life to date.

More than 20 years ago, following regular breast examinations, Reid found a lump that, upon examination, was found to be benign. After several tests, she was diagnosed as having fibrocystic breast disease, or ‘lumpy’ breast.

Despite the relief of not being diagnosed with breast cancer, Reid still did her regular breast examinations. In early 2015, another lump was found that went away, but after some time, the lump resurfaced.

“It wasn’t going away. I went to my doctor and asked to be tested. I did the test and I was told that I needed to do an urgent biopsy,” Reid said.

The results from the biopsy indicated that the lump was benign. But Reid was still uncomfortable and decided to do another set of tests. “There was a voice in my head that kept saying I should repeat the biopsy, and I did. The result was positive,” she said.

Reid, who went to pick up the report herself, was initially undaunted and fearless. “By the time I got home, a voice said to me that I should pray before I opened the report. I did and went straight to the bottom of the report. I had stage-two breast cancer,” she said.

A Christian since she was 13 years old, Reid said all of the fire in her was gone, and it was as if she was carried into a different world.

“I stood up and the place got dark. I held the report and I started to pray; and I said to God, ‘If this is the path you have chosen for me, take me through this, and you alone will be glorified’,” Reid said.

“Within moments, I felt like I was being covered from my head to my toes, and I knew that God was with me. I started singing When Peace Like A River and It Is Well With My Soul, and from that day cancer has not been a bother for me,” she said.

She was referred to the Kingston Public Hospital for surgery and outpatient treatment. “This was the first time that I felt nervous. When I was on the stretcher to do the surgery, I started praying and singing prayer choruses and tried to lift my spirit. When I woke up, I started walking the floor, because it was my greatest fear that I wouldn’t wake up. I did so well after the surgery that within two days I was sent home,” Reid said.

A member of the New Testament Church of God, Reid stayed with friends for about six weeks and this, she said, this aided greatly in her recovery. ‘I was out and about and ate healthily, and kept praying and uplifting myself,” she said.

For the mother of two, her recovery process was remarkable, despite the challenges that came with chemotherapy. Reid had a total of 16 treatments.

“The first four chemotherapy treatments were hard. At one point, I thought that I wouldn’t make it,” Reid said.

After follow-up visits this year, Reid said the results have shown that she is cancer free. “I am grateful and giving God thanks for the results. I have changed my outlook on life. Cancer has given me hope. I am renewed. I laugh more, I even laugh at myself, “ Reid said.

Reid is now a volunteer at Jamaica Reach To Recovery, the outreach arm of the Jamaica Cancer Society. “I encourage persons that are going through the same thing that I did. I try to give them hope. I encourage them to live one day at a time and appreciate life more,” she said.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com