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Despair - Hope

by Sadie Chapman
Spring 2009

despair hopeA phrase of wisdom states, "Your attitude determines your altitude." With the right attitude, a person can go far and rise to greater heights, no matter what challenges or obstacles are faced in life. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago, it was an overall positive attitude throughout the entire ordeal that helped me to cope with this disease. I knew God had sustained me through this temporary, rough roadblock.

It was after receiving the results of my annual mammogram, which showed an abnormality, I calmly said to myself, "Oh Lord, what is it now?" Several days later, more tests had to be done. I remember sitting in the waiting room, praying to myself, Lord don't let it be breast cancer. When the doctor came in, he explained that the results were not good. The diagnosis was breast cancer. I could see the sadness on my daughter's face. I looked at my daughter, Nikki, then to the doctor, and with a voice of assurance, I calmly said, "Let's go on to the next level."

Of course, I had to tell my husband, Willie, the horrible news when I got home. Since he is a man of few words, I wasn't sure how he would react. After much discussion, he simply said to me, "I'm not worried yet." (We know cancer can recur).

I was able to enjoy my Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays with family and friends with the mindset that everything was going to be ok. After all, what could I do except deal with the problem or let the problem deal with me. I decided to take care of what was needed.

I have always been one who encouraged others to be strong, have faith in God, and know that there is always HOPE to carry you through difficult times. Well, it was my turn. What do I say to myself, for now the shoe was on the other foot? I really didn't have time to have an attitude of "Why me?"

Many, many doctor appointments and medical procedures were now in order to prepare me for surgery. I was wheeled into pre-op a few days later. Dr. Pamela Strickland introduced me to her medical staff only to meet the eyes of an anesthesiologist with much familiarity. Immediately my heart was filled with glee and conversation, for this young lady, Susan Johnson, was one I had taught in fourth grade. She was such an inspiration in letting me know they were going to take good care of me.

Once the news traveled that I was diagnosed with cancer and had had surgery (twice), I was overwhelmed with many calls, visits, monetary gifts, encouragement and food. Knowing that I had family and friends to help, I knew without a doubt, THERE WAS HOPE.

Cancer affects each individual in different ways. I could not comprehend at first what was happening to my body. At times, I did think of cancer as a monster, how it "sucks", and what a nightmare. I never thought cancer would invade my body. I was the first in my family to have this disease. Fortunately, my cancer was diagnosed at a very early stage. My oncologist, Dr. Steven Davidson, assured me that my only medication would be tamoxifen.

Today, I am blessed beyond measure. No matter what happened to my physical body, I still have loved ones, people I now know that I didn't know before, and a wonderful support group to let me know they're here for me and I am not alone in this challenge. Most of all, I thank God for providing me with the inner strength to keep going. When life tells me NO, I tell life YES. LET YOUR ATTITUDE HEIGHTEN YOUR ALTITUDE.