“THE UNBREAKABLE SPIRIT PART ONE”

Posted: June 11, 2010 in Uncategorized
 
 

“THE UNBREAKABLE SPIRIT- PART ONE” 

BY ANNIE AND RICK HAMILTON, BOB AND TEIRSA BELVIN, MIKE AND STACY BELVIN AND J. TIMOTHY LONGPRE’ 

” The bravest battle that was ever fought; Shall I tell where and when? On the maps of the world you will find not; it was fought by the mothers of men” 

It’s often been said that a person’s true character is often tried during times of crisis. Mom’s first health crisis occurred in 1981 with her diagnosis of Inflammatory breast cancer. 

I was fourteen, my older brother 16, and my baby brother, eleven. Mom became aware of pain in her arm, like a bruise from her elbow to her armpit. She said she’d been feeling it for a while but ignored it. One night, she walked into the bathroom to check it out. Under her arm she found a lump the size of a walnut that prevented her from putting her arm all the way down and freaked out. She knew something was wrong and made an appointment with her doctor. He referred her to the hospital for tests. 

Mom recalls sitting in the office of the oncologist who treated her. He told her she had inflammatory breast cancer and that it had spread to her lymph nodes. Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare and aggressive (rapidly spreading) breast cancer that involves the skin of the breast and the lymph nodes. 

“So now what?” she asked. “What are my chances of being cured?” 

He said he would try to treat her, but suggested she enjoy her time with her family. He told her she ‘might live for six months but probably closer to three’ We were shocked to hear the words from her oncologist, Stephen Gorton. During this period, Mom and Dad’s marriage was in a crisis although she was more fearful of what would happen to us if she died than dying itself…she quickly decided leaving was not an option and dug her heels into a ‘mind over matters’ mindset, refusing to budge. Her physicians went away to a conference one week later where they learned of new treatments and her chances of survival went from zero percent to 25 %. We were ecstatic. She confidently announced to him that SHE would be the ‘one in four’ who survived. Of course, she wrestled with this new mindset and was quickly told that she would need to ‘reset’ her attitude in order to successfully journey through the long haul through cancer. Several suggestions were made from therapy, journaling, swimming, group sessions. Mom elected to go with counseling and swimming, occasionally charting her feelings in a journal. 

It was very difficult and she had her first treatment on her thirty-eighth birthday. She threw up all over her cake and felt awful, and we didn’t know quite how to react to her side effects. 

Mom gained strength and stuck with the program and sixteen months later, her determination paid off. Her specialists declared her 100 % cured although she had to undergo regular checkups, blood work, ct scans, etc. She was not officially out of the woods for the next couple of years and although she managed to stay healthy for many years and continued to serve as an inspiration for many people, her illness took an unbelievable toll on her body, one that is now coming full circle, twenty-seven years after her initial diagnosis. 

This incredible woman of unbreakable strength and faith has endured two bouts with breast cancer, a five-way bypass, lymphedema, kidney failure, brain tumor and a host of other physical ailments stemming from her initial diagnosis. We are blessed though…We got to keep our beloved Mother, friend, daughter, grandmother, niece, aunt, cousin, wife, sister. This precious, beloved woman has meant a great deal to many people and her legacy continues to live through all of those who love her. Please stay tuned for part II in formation for the conclusion to her story. thank you. 

 

Comments
  1. Christy says:

    Wow, you’re mom is amazing and this is a great story to share. Can’t wait to read the next entry!

  2. […] June 11, 2010 by anniehamilton805 in Uncategorized 0     […]

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