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"Faith Forward to the Finish Line" By Shadina Blunt

I knew I was always blessed, but I did not realize just how blessed I was. The 2022 year ended and I celebrated New Years as always praying and thanking God for His blessings. Every year I do a vision board to help me plan out what I want to accomplish in the coming year. This year I had a whole event and invited people as well to complete their boards. I was pregnant and busy, but this year’s board was harder for some reason! For the last two years I had been adding on my board, get closer to Jesus, become more active in your church. This has always been part of my life and I needed to add it back in more. As the year began, I felt great. I was 30+ weeks pregnant as a surrogate and everything was going well. My family was good, and business was great! Everything seemed well and in the right place.

I first noticed the lumps in my breast right after the New Year, but I did not think too much about them because I was pregnant and as history has presented itself, I tend to have lumpy breast as I get closer to delivery. What was different for me was these two lumps were very noticeable during my self-exam in two specific spots and I only had the lumps in one of the breasts. The right breast had no lumps at all which would be odd if both breasts were getting ready for delivery and to pump for this unborn child. I went on and continued my regular events with my family and decided I would let my OBGYN doctor (Dr. Jacqueline Walters) know at my next prenatal appointment about the lumps if they were still there.

 I went in for my next routine appointment and told my doctor about these lumps to see if she was feeling what I felt. She agreed and stated “I don’t play with lumps” as she is a two-time breast cancer survivor herself. She immediately ordered a breast ultrasound. Now, normally I would allow time to pass and would get the appointment scheduled in the coming weeks as my pregnancy brain would allow me to remember, but something said go ahead and call to schedule as I left the doctor’s office. Literally on the ride home I called to schedule the ultrasound that would take place the next week. I went in for the scheduled ultrasound and I had not one worry or concern. I had no family history and these lumps just popped up literally two weeks ago and I am overall healthy. I always get great medical reports and results. During the ultrasound, the tech could see the lumps that were asked to be viewed. She scanned and then proceeded to get the radiologist doctor that also confirmed the lumps were there, but they did not know what they were. They said I would need further testing which included a biopsy. Before leaving the appointment, I was given a biopsy appointment scheduled for next week. I am now 32 weeks pregnant and scheduled for a breast biopsy and they would add markers for the future. I still had no concerns about what was happening. I just thought these are the logistics and boxes that needed to be checked with lumpy breast. Another week has passed, and we are on January 24th. I will never forget that day and what I was doing when I got that call. My ears went death after the words breast cancer was spoken. I could not hear anything else for a moment. I started to cry and then had to quickly suck it up and go back to the meeting I was in. I was in complete shock, since I was always the one that was healthy how could this have happened to me?

I walked around the next few weeks in disbelief and wondering if the results were true. How could this happen to me, why would this happen to me? I asked God how he could let this happen. As we prepared with planning for delivery of the baby and starting treatment. I was all over the place, crying, hurt, scared and nervous about the unknown but, I had to stay strong and positive for the baby I was carrying and function as normally as possible until I could share it with my family. I remember it was a Friday and I spent the whole weekend in the house crying about what was happening. On Sunday I had serving responsibilities as I am a member of my hospitality team. I went to my team lead to tell her I would need to step down with everything happening. I started to explain that I was diagnosed with breast cancer and would need to start treatment soon. As I spoke my eyes filled with tears and the tears started rolling. She looked at me very calmly and confidently and said, “awe baby do not worry about that, you will be just fine, all will be well". I looked at her like how do you know? It was in that moment I stopped crying and looked up at her and was like “you know what you're right!” I was in a state of shock for a moment again that I had forgotten who I was and whose I was. God has me covered. I have been blessed all my life and to think God was going to stop now with this diagnosis was fool of me. I just needed to have the faith and believe God is who God says He is and do the work He set forth. From that moment on I never took the diagnosis on my own. Meaning I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, but I did not have breast cancer. I decided I would never say I have Breast Cancer, but rather breast cancer was found. I decided not to attach breast cancer to me from the start because I was not keeping it.

My mindset in the coming days changed. I saw the fight and I saw who was leading the fight and I was ready for war. Luckily, on the forefront with me was my best friend, Lakeshia. Shortly after my diagnosis we planned a girl’s weekend trip to relax and love on each other. She came to share a word with me which gave confirmation from God on this next journey I would start. This journey was not going to be easy, but I would be expeditiously healed to share my story with millions. All was going to be well, and we would win!

I started a campaign in my head and set up the battlefield as we began to fight. I had my healing scriptures I would read daily; I had my healing tapes I would listen to in my car daily by Gloria Copeland, I had Jekalyn Carr's "One Nation under God" album playing constantly ("I Am A Winner" and "You Will Win" are my favorite), and I had my prayer life daily. The fight began and it was not easy. It was harder than I ever imagined. I am a strong person, but this was different than anything I had ever experienced. The medical doctors and my doctor, who again is a two-time survivor, shared with me what to expect and I thought that I would just breeze through.

Once treatment started, I quickly learned I was wrong. Three days after the first treatment the sickness and pain started. The diarrhea was the worst. After the second treatment I completely lost all my hair. Each treatment the sickness and pain got worse. All the symptoms and side effects presented themselves to be true. I tried to continue my regular schedule and life since I am a mom, but that did not go well. After the third treatment I ended up in the hospital with a fever from a bad infection, my potassium was at a critical level, my blood was low and I needed multiple transfusions, my kidneys were malfunctioning, by now I had lost twenty plus pounds and was so weak. I could not eat anything, my taste buds were gone, I had this horrible metal taste in my mouth that never left. I was almost thinking I should just keep the cancer if the treatment is going to kill me. The devil wanted me to believe I could not win and change my mindset. He wanted me to give up. This was going to be the thing that he would use to beat me, because all other efforts in my life failed and I was too valuable to God. With each punch cancer treatment threw, I threw my faith right back at it. I remained calm and prayerful even as I cried most days. I smiled a lot and pushed through as much as I could to keep a positive mindset. When people asked how I was I would say all is well and leave it at that. Faith, forward I thought! I started to repeat “By Jesus' stripes I am healed” daily sometimes for hours. I would sit on the commode with what I called death diarrhea and just say “by Jesus' stripes I am healed". The louder the devil would try and get in my head and say "I am not going to beat this, I am not going to be healed, God does not love you," the louder I repeated “By Jesus' stripes I am healed".

There were so many things that came up during treatment along the way that tried to make me think I could not win. The devil wanted me to think that he won, but I refused to give into those thoughts and kept my mind on the prize and promise of God. God is not a God that He should lie, even when we do not know how He shows up and shows out all the time. The promise expeditiously started to happen after the third treatment and after I got out of the hospital. The breast surgeon wanted a repeat ultrasound to see how receptive the treatment was to the tumors. I returned for a repeat ultrasound and the Ultrasound Tech started to scan my breast and I could tell she was shocked by something. She continued to scan over my breast and take measurements. She could find the top lump that was originally 2 cm that had grown to 6 cm and now was undetectable, this was the lump that was an invasive cancer and moving fast. The other lump was 0.2 cm from 6 cm and only after 3 of the six treatments the oncologist assigned me. The doctors were shocked and amazed as well at the progress, and plans could be updated to move forward with surgery. The hard part was not over yet, but we were making progress in the right direction.

Keeping the faith helped me tremendously and it will help me get to the finish line of this fight. I could not fight without God. I could not finish without my faith that it would all work as He promised. You know that all things work together for my good. As I continue this healing journey there are so many things I see and understand now as to why I had to go through this. Remember in the beginning of my story I shared that I asked to get closer to God on my vision board. I did not ask to be diagnosed with Cancer, but I understand why it was a pivotable part of the goal. I am thankful for what I went through now. I can mark that as complete on my vision board and I am forever changed. My pain will be my purpose, and my trials will be my testimony. As I continue this journey faith forward to the finish line. All will be well, and we will win!

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