I am Naomi Chavez from Manila, Philippines. I want to share my cancer experience with my parents, followers, cancer patients, and cancer survivors. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2013. and underwent an updated radical mastectomy in my left breast. The affected mass of the breast that the doctors had found was 1.2 cm. My oncologist had given me various options to remove my breast cancer, and I had decided to opt for Surgery. My left breast had to be removed.
All I thought was about survival since I was a single mother, and I had a son. The thought of leaving him alone in this world scared me. It was traumatic news because I was just 40 years old. Although my dad and my friends supported me during those tough times, the thought of dying was emotionally exhausting. I wondered why all of it was happening with me, and I used to pray to the almighty.
I was shattered when the oncologist told me that my breast cancer was stage one and that I needed Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy sessions in the Philippines were costly. I was operated on in January 2013. Since the operation, I stayed home with one of my sisters, and we lived in constant fear. It felt like I wasn’t complete anymore, that a part of me was lost.
Chemotherapy medications were very uncomfortable for me. There were seven Chemotherapy medications that I had to take for my veins, which was quite exhausting. My movement was hampered, and the slightest of touch or movement was excruciatingly painful. Chemo medications had other side effects too, and my stomach felt the direct impact. I vomited frequently. The worst part of Chemotherapy was hair loss, and I could barely recognize myself in the mirror. My nails and tongue had become black, and I lost my sense of taste. Overall, chemo was a terrible experience.
I had to go through multiple pathological checks every month following chemotherapy, as I was under an oncologist’s observation. Various tests were conducted on me, just to make sure that the cancer was not reappearing.
Since I could not function for a year after I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I found it hard to pay rents. My family and some of my close friends have supported me financially. Today I understand that life is concise, and we should live it, and no matter what issue emerges, we have to fight and get past it.
Love and positivity
Although it was a terrifying experience, and I had a tough time, I always had the support of my loving family and friends. It was a huge moral support! I had decided to be optimistic, and that helped me a lot during my breast cancer. I had also received financial help from my friends and family for the chemo. All of this was quite overwhelming. My doctors, care providers, and nurses treated me as their family. I was even asked to get my makeup done, even though I was ill as they wanted me to enjoy my life, and it was a great boost to my spirit and added a lot of positivity.
I’m now in my seventh year, and it has been a long journey. With a lot of motivation and optimism, I have come so far. I was also inspired by my son. I learned how to cope with interpersonal issues, and I discovered that life was delightful. I had also stopped my smoking habit right after the day I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I used to get unexpected presents from my peers, family. For this experience, I’ve learned to live my life positively. My nurses have been pleasant, and my parents have given me tremendous support, both emotionally and financially. I’m blessed because I’ve never been faced with any stigma from my family or peers. I didn’t notice anything negative, even when I returned to my office. They’ve all embraced me to reassure me that I’m a strong persona, and they’re all proud of me.
The insecurities after the cancer battle
I was overjoyed when I heard that I was cancer-free, but I was still worried because I didn’t know whether it would come back. I did pray and had mixed feelings at the time. I went for scans and consulted doctors. I told myself that if it would come back, I’d fight it again. I will never hold anyone responsible, and I will fully embrace God’s decision. My cancer taught me to appreciate life even more. I always keep myself occupied. I have plantations in my home, and I also got a PET dog! I follow a healthy diet and exercise too. All these things have kept my insecurities at bay.
As the Almighty has given me a second chance, I would like to share some crucial points so that no one has to go through such a traumatic situation. If you feel something is wrong inside your body, then quickly go to the doctor for a check-up, since self-awareness and early diagnosis of cancer are necessary.
I will advise all my viewers to be strong and optimistic during cancer and post-cancer as well. You need to have complete appreciation and love for yourself. This way, nothing can stand in your way, and you can overcome the dark times. If you feel low, think about your loved ones, and that will inspire you to be determined. Always remember: ‘There is a rainbow after the rain.’