I grew up believing in God, but I did not have a relationship with Jesus. I was depressed for over 20 years, searching for happiness in all of the wrong places, before knowing Jesus. I made many bad decisions in my life and I always questioned, “How could God forgive me for my past?” On February 12, 2009, my life changed forever. I was being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance after just celebrating my 40th birthday in January. The EMT told me that I was having a heart attack. During this frightful ride, I only thought about my 8-year-old daughter. Who would take care of her if I died? Why is this happening to me? I’m a healthy 40-year-old woman who never smoked and was not overweight. I spent a week in the hospital and returned to work 10 days later knowing I still did not feel well, but I wanted to go back to my normal life.
The next month I felt a lump in my left breast. On April 29, 2009, I heard the words “you have breast cancer”. The Dr. said that I had “triple negative breast cancer”. At that moment, I was so scared and cried out to God, “Why is this happening to me?” After researching this disease, I knew I had the deadliest form of breast cancer, but I did not know my future. I was frightened and scared. In June 2009, I drove to Boston from Orlando to receive the best treatment possible. I had no idea how sick I would become. My plan was to get treatment as quickly as possible and return back to my old life, but God had other plans. My first visit to the oncologist was terrifying, but my dad was right beside me. Because of my heart attack, the doctors had to figure out a unique treatment plan for me. At this point I was fighting for my life!
June 2009 through September 2009, I received eight high doses of chemotherapy. I felt guilty asking for help from my family and friends because I knew they had busy lives. My daughter was so young she could not understand why Mom could not take her camping, play basketball at the park or walk her to school. I did the best I could under the circumstances.
I stayed with my cousin and his family while I was going through treatment. They have a strong faith in God and prayed daily for me. I started to attend church with them when I had the energy. Was God trying to tell me something? In October 2009, I had a mastectomy of my left breast with no possibility for reconstruction because of my heart history. Taking the bandages off after this surgery was devastating. I thought “How will a man ever find me attractive again?” This recovery was long and painful, not just physically, but mentally. During this time, I lost my job that I loved, the bank foreclosed on my home and I lost the relationship with my husband. My world was crumbling around me. I was very angry and depressed.
I joined a breast cancer support group in Arlington, MA. These women were so kind, loving and supportive. They understood what I was going through. They listened as I cried and we all shared a very special bond. A year passed and I still was not feeling well—out of breath and low energy. My cardiologist ordered a stress test. The test showed that I needed to have double by-pass surgery. “How am I going to get through this?” “Where is God?” “Why is this happening to me?” Friends and family had to help me again. I felt guilty again. After my surgery, I started to use alcohol and food to numb my depression and anxiety. I gained a ton of weight and just checked out of life. At this point my life was very dark and I needed to do something, because God obviously needed to use me for His purpose.
I started to attend Grace Chapel and give my life to Christ, because I could not live Christine’s life alone. I realized that God was talking to me and holding my hand during the most difficult time in my life. I saw in the church bulletin a weight-loss group called First Place 4 Health. My goal was to lose weight, but God had other plans. The first Bible study was very overwhelming because of the books, DVDs and all of these new women that I had never met. The next day I called my Bible study leader and said “I cannot do this! It is overwhelming!” She told me to forget about the books and just come to the Bible study. During the first few weeks God slowly started to talk to me. Through the Bible study, I learned how much God loves me and how He can heal and forgive me for all of my sin. My sisters in my group prayed, supported, and loved me. I have never felt so much love in my life.
The first six months, I did not lose weight; I first needed healing in my heart. Through God’s grace and strength, I stopped using alcohol for medication, started exercising and eating healthy. The anxiety and depression started to lift and I felt like a new person. Through the darkness I started to see the light. I have learned to be more compassionate, forgiving, loving, and selfless, and to enjoy the moment. FP4H saved my life.
God has blessed me in so many ways this year. I can now walk 5-6 miles a day! On March 16, I was baptized at Grace chapel, in April, I told my cardiologist that I lost 58 pounds and on May 27, I found love again; David loves what is in my heart and will look past my physical scars. In August I went on that camping trip that I promised my daughter back in 2009; we hiked our first mountain. My daughter was also baptized during this trip.
On October 22, I said goodbye to my oncologist, because this year I celebrate five years cancer-free.