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MOBILE, Ala. -- As a youth counselor, mission president and deaconess at her church, Anntonette Thompson of Mobile approaches everything in her life from a position of faith. So when she learned that she had a malignant lump in her right breast, she called her husband, and she called her pastor. Tests showed it was triple negative, an especially hard-to-treat form of breast cancer. She drew strength from her faith in God, family, and church family at Mt. Sinai Baptist in Whistler as she underwent a lumpectomy, 37 radiation treatments and five months of chemotherapy, completing her treatment on Aug. 16, 2014.
This is how Anntonette tells her story.
HOW IT BEGAN
As usual, I did my yearly mammogram. On my visit in October of 2013 when I went to the doctor I was told that they saw something on my x-ray but I didn’t think anything of it. So, they later called back and said, “We need to do an ultrasound. We also want you to speak with an oncologist.” At that time, I didn’t know who or what on oncologist was because no one in my immediate family had ever had cancer.
ON HER DIAGNOSIS
This entire time I had been making plans for the Breast Cancer Walk. On the Friday before the walk, the doctor called and said, “Mrs. Thompson, I wish I had better news for you but it’s cancer.”
My pastor’s wife met me at the church and began to pray. She said, “You’re not going to go through any hardship. Whatever it is that God has allowed you to go through, you’re going to be able to go through it.”
The three areas that I was tested for, I failed all three. The doctor said, “You’ve got to have chemo and you’ve got to have radiation.” He gave me a choice of having a lumpectomy or mastectomy. He said that, years ago, they automatically would do a mastectomy. But now through research, they’ve found that a lumpectomy can be just as effective as a mastectomy. He said that a lot of women live in fear of the cancer coming back, so they choose the mastectomy.
I said, “No, that’s not me.”
One of my church members told me that she had Stage 4 breast cancer and she said, “Dr. (Daniel) Cameron was my doctor.” What I like about him is that he is very thorough. So I had my chemo through Dr. Cameron. He was awesome, just a blessing!
I went to work every day. I came to church every Sunday. I still had to get plenty of rest.
THE HARDEST PART
The most difficult part for me was my hair coming out, but I had long hair. I said, “Lord, I can’t believe I’m worried about my hair.” I guess it’s a woman thing, and so I really had to pray about it.
I was wearing wigs, and people at work didn’t even now I had cancer. I prayed, “Give me the courage to come out of this wig.” The next day I went to work with my bald head. Everybody said, “You look so pretty! You are beautiful!”
ON LIVING FULLY
A cancer diagnosis changes your whole life. Everything is important. You don’t take time and things for granted. You tell your husband, “I love you.” You tell your kids, “I love you.” Up until that time, we just go along in our everyday lives. But then it’s as if you come to a halt.
HER NEW MISSION
Through the process, I didn’t know what my purpose was. I thought I was walking in my purpose, what God wanted me to do. I had a friend of mine call me and say, “I ran into someone who has breast cancer, the same type, triple negative.” She wanted me to talk to her.
I told the woman, “You’ve got to believe in God. The medical technology has come a long way in treating cancer. You can’t let this be a death sentence. You’ve got to fight.”
I never ask, “Why me?” Why not me? Who am I? I encourage people to not ask why. Just go through it. You’re going to come out. You’re going to look back and say, “Wow.”
Ask your physician for a referral to USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute or call 251-410-HOPE for an appointment.
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