The prayerful fight against breast cancer- Pauline Ellis' testimony
Green Pond, Manchester:
The thought of being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness is scary for many individuals, and their hope is to never face such a fate.
But what of those who have been so diagnosed and are told to arm themselves for a fight?
For years, Pauline Ellis felt lumps in her breasts that would disappear after a doctor's visit and a dosage of antibiotics. But had she known the effects of neglecting the findings of one of her self-examinations, she would have done things differently.
"In June 2013, I felt a lump as small as a marble in my breast, but I didn't think it was anything because I was always doing my mammogram, and at a particular time of the month - every month - I did my self-examination and nothing came up. However, after ignoring it for a while, I felt it again, but this time, it was bigger," she began.
Ellis, through wise counsel, visited the Jamaica Cancer Society in October of the same year.
Having previously made an appointment to see her general practitioner, Ellis, out of curiosity, asked for her breast to be checked. It was there that she received the first opinion that she did, in fact, have breast cancer.
"I got two referrals: one for the mammogram centre and another for surgery. I went to the Cancer Society to pick up my results and when I read it, it said I needed to do a biopsy."
While Ellis waited for her results, she had a prayer group online that supported her throughout the nerve-wracking experience.
"To collect the results and get the date for the surgery was the same day. A friend's daughter accompanied me. I collected my result and it said 'non-benign'. I asked her quickly to Google it and then we knew: it was it."
She added: "By the time I had my next visit, you could see the lump and I didn't have to lie down to feel the lump. The doctor told me it was Stage 2 T1 breast cancer. By this time, it was December and I eventually got a date for surgery in January of 2014."
Ellis was advised by the doctors to live a stress-free life during the waiting period, but the problems, at times, were overwhelming.
"He gave me all the information regarding the cost for accommodation and surgery and everything else. It was about $200,000 for accommodation, but all I had in my account was a little over $100,000. I remember once when I went to the insurance company to make a claim, but things were delayed and I found myself sitting in the bus park crying - just crying.
The time had come for Ellis' surgery and, financially, everything worked out and she was now looking to God to work out the rest.
"I think I was blessed: I had five doctors on my team, and they were the best doctors. I did tests to find out if the cancer was spreading, and I was in the clear in that regard. I did a mastectomy and everything went well to the point where the doctors even said I could go home the same day, but they kept me until the next day. I even went back to my normal diet. I didn't even get pain medication. I was good."
One hurdle was down but others were ahead. One such was chemotherapy treatment.
"People were praying for me, not only in Jamaica. I was fearful nonetheless, not because of the cancer, but the physical help that I needed. I wondered who was going to be there as my sisters had work and were sometimes far away. My best friend, Ann, had just left to another country."
She added, "But you had people like Peaches, who was a tower of strength; Dionne Francis and Sis Taylor, who ensured I had my supply of vegetables and the right foods to eat while doing chemo; and my brother, Evan, and his wife never left me out."
When it was all over, Ellis learned to cherish, even more, the genuine, God-fearing people around her and learned to rely totally on God for His saving grace.
"There were many days when I had to tough it out. It was my journey to bear and I had to deal with it through God's grace. It wasn't money or anything like that that saved me. It was the prayers. I was fearful of the 'C' word because it runs in my family, but God delivered me and I am blessed and anointed."
She ended, "If you find yourself in a similar position, do not delay, don't be fearful. Trust God and believe He'll come through for you as He did for me."