Renita Ann Birt, MS, QMHP

On March 4, 2020, I received the call “I am sorry, but it’s cancer, Renita.” As I
digested this information, I watched my 15-year-old daughter sob and scream.
Unfortunately, cancer did not grant me the opportunity to take my phone off
speaker, which led to my daughter hearing the diagnosis. I was 35 years old now
living with lymphoma and breast cancer classified as being invasive ductal
carcinoma. I would go onto learn that the cancer grew through the duct and spread
to a nearby lymph node. Additionally, the cancer was ER-positive, PR-positive,
and HER2-positive.
After hearing the diagnosis, I tried to reassure my daughter everything would be
fine and there was no need to cry. As we pulled into our garage, I asked my
daughter to go in the house, and I would be in shortly. Then, my emotions came
pouring out. The feeling of hurt, anger, betrayal, resentment, and confusion

overwhelmed me. I am not sure how I managed to inform my parents, siblings, and
partner that cancer has entered our family, but there it was. I was now a cancer
patient.
My life was consumed with “cancer”. I went from only seeing my primary care
physician for annual checkups to talking to medical provider three to four times a
week. I met with a general surgeon who connected me with an oncologist. I would
receive six chemo treatments, and the regimen would consist of Taxotere,
Carboplatin, Herceptin, and Perjeta. Once the chemo was completed, I decided to
undergo a double mastectomy followed by immediate reconstructive surgery. For
personal reasons, I declined radiation. I will receive hormonal therapy for five to
ten years.
Finding Hope
When you are diagnosed with breast cancer, you must find peace within yourself.
You must find peace in knowing the disease is not a death threat, and you are
stronger than you think. I found hope in restoring my faith in God and building a
stronger bond with my family. There are days when I just sit and cry, but I look to
my faith for healing and guidance. I seek out daily affirmations, such as “Be Still
and Know that I am God” to bring me comfort in times of fear. Along with my
faith, I joined an online support group and connected with women in similar
situations. Most importantly, I found hope in knowing this battle would become
part of my life journey. My life journey that would become a testimony for other
women facing Breast Cancer.

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